Friendship, true friendship, is a wonderful thing. It’s much more than just seeing someone on a Sunday and asking how their week was. To maintain a friendship is time consuming, a person much be dedicated and willing to sacrifice. We need friendships like that of David and Jonathan (for example, 1 Samuel 18:1-5) in the church today. Here’s why…
Having true friendships in a church will mean you invest in the people around you. I’m not naive, I know you can’t be true friends with everyone that is part of your church family. However, people need to go much deeper than just the surface level chats about the weather, work and the fake “I’m fine”.
Having true friendships will mean that you care more for those who don’t have families, for whatever reason. If you’re friends with, or want to be friends with, someone in their 30’s who is single you bring them into your home and make them part of the family. If you want to support an elderly member who lives alone, bring them in and treat them like a grandpa or a grandma. True friendships won’t ‘fix’ people, but they can help people through some of the difficulties they face in life with you together.
True friendships are visible to onlookers. It’s quite easy to see if church members are willing to invest in friendships within their church fellowship. As a visitor, walking into a church and seeing people who genuinely love each other and who are intentionally being you into that is the most welcome thing.
A growth in true friendships, and the culture that goes with it, will help people move away from the consumerist mentality. There are many people who fill seats in churches all over the world who are there to get what they want. They’re there to be served, but not to serve. They’re there to be encouraged and built up, not to be challenged in their faith. They’re there with minimal commitment and normally run off as soon as the benediction has ended. Creating a culture of true friendship means that you will invest in these people, and hopefully, they’ll see the call for Christians to serve and join their local church.
There are more things that could be said about the importance of true friendships for a church family. But I want to mention one of the reasons that such friendships aren’t that common in many churches today, in my opinion…
Fear. We’re afraid to let people into our lives and see the real mess that exists. People prefer to hide behind a mask of perfection that just send them into a spiral and is unhelpful. We’re afraid to let people come close. Inviting people into your lives can be super uncomfortable at times and trusting people doesn’t come easy to many people. We’re afraid that letting people in too much can lead to pain and heartache. We’re afraid of the commitment. Looking at the relationship between David and Jonathan they were seriously committed to each other. So committed that some people even think they were engaged in a homosexual relationship (which is not true). I think some have jumped to that conclusion because such tight friendships are so uncommon today. But that is what we should be striving for: close, meaningful, loving, self-sacrificial, other focused friendships that last and glorify God.
True friendships are a wonderful gift from God. Invest in the people around you, let them into your life, take off the mask and be open and honest. Glorify God by drawing near to those around you and creating a culture of true friendship in your church.