Friendships… It is always a conversation that seems to makes its way to the front burner. I guess it is because I am always hearing about another friendship that has gone South as the saying goes. I also read articles or blogs on sites that I belong to about the lack of friendships, the ruins of it. So many have experienced hurt and betrayal. Why does this continue? What is the key? What is the missing link in friendships today?
I have experienced my own heartbreak in these area. Relationships that dissolve can bring on many questions. I am one that can analyze everything, from every angle and guess what, sometimes I still do not get the answers I seek. I have learned to trust God when I don’t know why. He is making my heart steady in this area. Even when it hurts and it is hard, I know all things work together for good for those of us who love and serve the Lord. He is faithful. He is sovereign over all. He removes people from our lives and at times we do not understand or know the answers. He does ~
Today with all the social media sites, I believe it has changed the meaning of friend. To me, it does not have the same meaning to society anymore.
As a Christian, should our friendships not look different from those of the world? For many of us, that is one of the problems is there is no difference. What does ” friend” mean to you? What does being a brother or sister in Christ mean?
For me, the foundation of friendship is being real and transparent. For the close members of my tribe, they hear me say four words a lot in the last few months. Real, transparent, listen and obey. Four words that the Lord has placed on my heart.
What does Transparent mean? Webster defines transparent as having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that bodies lying beyond are seen clearly passing light without diffusion or distortion. Free from pretense or deceit. Easily detected or seen through, readily understood. Don’t you love that it says what it is and what it is not?
The closer I grow to the Lord the more I see Him in everything. He wants His light clearly passing through us without diffusion or distortion. In everything, in every way, Praise the Lord. Praising the Lord in our day to day life will have more meaning and make more of a difference than any sermon that is ever preached on any given Sunday.
A true friend is real in that they reveal their struggles. They ask and want and expect accountability. It is easy to say I want an accountability partner. It is harder to live out those words. REAL friends sharpen each other and we help each other when we stumble or when we are heading down the wrong path that does not line up with the word of God. We also do it kindly. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He is not going to insult you or humiliate you. How many times have I heard stories when it started out… Thus saith the Lord and it was anything but the Lord. Feelings were hurt. Rejection was felt and people walked away saying if this is Christianity than I don’t want any part of it. What devastation for the body of Christ and heartbreak for the person who was on the receiving end. I can only imagine how this breaks the heart of our redeeming Savior.
Being Real and Transparency creates a safe environment. We feel accepted. I believe the one universal truth in ALL of us is we want to be accepted no matter what creed, status, religion, age or color.
Christ was our example. Think of the stories. The woman caught in adultery. The lepers, the outcast of society. Christ knew ALL of their deepest sins and wrong thinking and weaknesses, yet He spent time with them. He sat at their table. He touched ones that no one else would have even acknowledged their existence. He was a difference maker.
He healed them.
He befriended them.
He SAVED them.
He set the ultimate example for us to be REAL and TRANSPARENT ~
Why are we not more transparent in the church today? Is it that we do not want our brothers and sisters in Christ to clearly see our heart? To see the sins we struggle with, the pains in our heart, our fears? Like the definition says, when we are not transparent, all you see is a distortion. Pride is a key factor also. When we lay down our ego and our pride and the foot of the cross , great things can happen.
When we are not transparent with one another, we are being deceitful. The masks we wear cover who we truly are. We are lying about who we are by having others get to know this masked person instead of the real person behind it. The word of God tells us to bear one another’s burdens. How can we do that if we don’t know what those burdens are because of the masks that we wear? Why do we put on this act of having it all together? It is a major issue. We ALL have issues. As our Pastor Chris Hodges says, if you don’t think you have an issue that is your issue. Where was the holier than thou act taught? Who told us that we have to act like we are perfect and have all the answers? This act fools nobody. I am the first to say I do not have all the answers But, I know who does. Our hope is in the Lord.
I believe true Christian friendship requires mutual transparency, don’t you? Can I get an Amen ? I want a friend who does not hide who they really are but who is transparent with me. A true friend reveals their struggles and asks for accountability. We pray for one another. We help each other walk when one stumbles.
Each time I sit down and start writing my thoughts down and share my heart in my outlet of writing, one more layer of transparency comes through. It’s not easy to bear my soul to the world. I feel vulnerable. The potential for being judged, for being hurt, for being rejected is great. But Jesus did all of that for us, didn’t He? Again, HE is our example.
I believe when the body of Christ is not performing in their gifts and their calling , we are insufficient in every way for the body. I believe God gives us each other in the body of Christ to lift one another up, carry each others burdens, and to extend to one another the same love and grace we have been given. God, in his wisdom, has chosen to use the body of Christ as one of the means through which he uses to change us.
When we are real, transparent, listen and obey , then and only then can we see the love of Christ shine in and through each other. When we are sharpening each other in the word and through prayer and encouragement, we become more like Jesus.
The change we are seeking in friendships in the body of Christ will happen when we take off the mask. It is there, in that moment of feeling your heart is exposed , that Christ uses our Christian friends to be the physical hands and feet and( arms to hug, I am in the South, we hug ) of Jesus. Friends embrace us, accept us, and walk with us along this journey of the Christian life. In our weaknesses is when the power of Christ shows up. I certainly need His strength.
Know the Lord created us to need one another. HE designed us to be that way. Let’s be what our example intended for us to be ~ We have to get this right to be difference makers for Him. He is our strength. He is our shield . My heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Cast your cares , your masks on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall.
Lord, create in us a new heart. Change our perspective. May we lay down our mask at your feet. Open our eyes Lord. For those who see with loving eyes, Life is Beautiful. For those who speak with tender voices, Life is peaceful, For those who help with gentle hands, Life is full and for those who care with compassionate hearts, hearts like yours Lord, Life is good beyond ALL measure. Lord, I want to use my influence to draw my friends closer to you. May your light shine through my weaknesses and your powerful grace show through. I want to be a difference maker for you Lord. Draw us closer to you and each other. Amen ~