Christian Friendship

ProverbsRecently, I posted some disappointing news on my Facebook status. Not long later, I heard the distinct buzzing sound of my phone where it rested on the counter. I walked over to it and saw a text from a dear friend that read, “Are you okay?”

She knows.

My friend knows my history and the ongoing battle I’ve had with depression. She knows how news like what I shared could impact me. After she read my Facebook status, she reached out and checked in with me. I responded back, “I’m disappointed, but okay. Thanks for asking.” Immediately, she responded, “Praying!”

Transparency

In our church culture, we don’t often go beneath the surface to know each other’s struggles and pains. Our conversations begin with “How are you?” and end with “Have a good week!” But in the middle, where the heart and soul of our conversation lies, is talk of the weather, next weekend’s plans, and the cutest thing our kids did this week. But it could be and should be so much more.

This will reveal my age for sure, but when I was in school my teachers often taught using a transparency machine. I remember they would lay a clear piece of plastic on the glass top and write down their notes for us to copy. The light from under the glass reflected off the mirrors above it and the image was projected onto a screen hanging on the wall in the front of the class. In a similar way, as Christians, we ought to be transparent with one another. Like transparency machines, I believe it is important for Christians to “transmit light” so that others can see clearly who we are.

Being Real

As believers, we all have something in common–sin. We all come to Christ the same way, through faith. There’s no need to pretend that we are something we’re not. Instead, what if we were real with one another? What if we shared our struggles and leaned on one another in our journey of faith? What if we encouraged one another with the gospel? What if we shared how God has transformed us?

While transparency isn’t necessary with every person that we meet, it is important that we have a group of Christians with whom we are mutually transparent. God places people in our lives, primarily through our local church community, with whom we can do life–these are the people to whom we can remove our masks. These are the people we see every week, even multiple times a week, with whom we can share our life–the good, bad, and ugly.

Mutual transparency is an essential ingredient in Christian friendship. Without being real and revealing our struggles and battles with one another, we are left to walk our faith journey alone. But the bible says that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes. 4:9-10).

The truth is, we need each other.

In the New Testament church, most Christians experienced persecution to some degree or another. In order to stand firm and endure, they needed one another. What the apostles instructed those in the early church, remains true for us today. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” And in Ephesians Paul wrote, “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (4:2).

The reason my friend knew my struggles was because I told her. I revealed to her the deep pains and struggles in my life. As a result, we support one another through the trials and challenges of walking the narrow road. Because I simply cannot do it on my own.

Do you have real Christian friendships?

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