I love people.
I do. I love them in a box I love them with some sox.
I love the way they make me laugh. I love them if they take a bath... :)
I know we are all made different.
Some people only like to have a small circle of friends. Others delight in large groups. People of various personalities and beliefs. All sizes, colors and ages.
I have tried to instill the concept of being friendly to all in my children. Not that we are on top of our game all the time. Some weekends I just like to crash with my little family and lock the world out. I think we need that too.
But the idea that I would only have 2 friends in the world seems a bit restrictive to me. So I always encourage my kids to play with many kids on the playground, not just the same one every day. You never know who might need you...and you've gained a new friend.
But is there a downside to friends?
Are you vulnerable with your friends or do you keep all your inner secrets to yourself? Do you have certain friends that you know are only around for what you can give them?
Who do you trust?
What about when the friends you thought you could trust aren't loyal to you? What about when the money runs out and they decide they don't really want to hang with you anymore? What about friends who believe the bad report someone else gives them about you and they no longer call? Or perhaps even spread the news along.
What do you do with that?
It hurts doesn't it? And sometimes it's easy for us to take that pain and spew it out all around and over everyone we see. Even if others are not interested. They hear us rant about our horrible friends.
What about when your friends disappoint you ?
When they don't come through in your crisis?
Maybe in your mind you tally up how many times you were there for them and of course they should return that favor. Of course they of all people better step up when you need them most.
And then they don't. And you wonder if they really care about you at all.
Have you ever heard this... "You really know who your friends are in times like this".
Or maybe this... "They were my friends, and they call themselves Christian, but they haven't been very Christian to me ".
What do you think of comments like that?
What does a "Christian" look like?
They are followers of Christ right? So we try to follow what he did right?
I go back to how Jesus treated his friends.
He had many friends. Jesus knew everyone he saw. And I believe most of them had heard of him as well.
But He picked a group of close friends to be in his inner circle. He asked them to follow him and learn from him. So he has these guys who live with him. They saw him in his down times and in his upfront ministry...when he's teaching and working miracles. They had constant access to their friend who is also the Messiah.
But when Jesus needed them most...When he could've used a friend.... Judas betrayed him. Peter swore he didn't know him. And the others disappeared.
Could Jesus have said... "Well I certainly know who my friends are in times like this"?
But instead what did he do?
He said, "Father forgive them. They don't know what they do."
Do you think you could do that?
The thing is... If I say I'm a Christ follower it doesn't matter what other people do. I am accountable to him for the way I followed. And sometimes we have to repent that we haven't followed him at all. Instead we have chosen a fleshly response that looks no different from what we may be accusing our friend of.
Sometimes my kids fight. I know.. we're unusual... but I see one of them whacking the daylights out of the other and I say "Hey, Hey.. quit hitting". Invariably the child responds... "well he hit me first". Justification that he has the right to hit back harder because he was not the initiator of the fight.
Doesn't it simplify our lives to simply acknowledge, "yes, that was hurtful, but I was forgiven, how can I withhold forgiveness? Even if they didn't ask for it."
I'm not talking about reconciliation. We could not be reconciled to the Father without first coming and confessing our sins and accepting Jesus as the payment for us.
The same is true for us. We cannot be reconciled to some relationships unless both are willing to confess the sins we commit against each other. Sometimes Trust is completely destroyed and it would not be wise for us to enter into such a close relationship with that friend again.
Judas could not grasp that he could ever be forgiven and he destroyed himself.
But Jesus used Peter to build his church.
That betraying, cussing, no good friend of his, was used to bring about God's great plan for the message to go out to all ends of the earth.
Could we consider how we cast stones at other friends who aren't always so gracious to us? Could we stop for a moment and the next time we hear that phrase..."well you really know who your friends are in these times".... and simply say, "Father forgive them... they just don't know."
Could it be that God is actually teaching us how to forgive in those moments? Maybe it's about us relying more fully on Jesus to be the friend that no one else could ever fill. It is never God's will that we sin against each other but perhaps God is using that experience to draw you in.
I am convinced that as I walk the path he walked and learn to die to my self daily I am happier.
Not a self gratifying happy. But a happy in my soul. A happy that I can be free to love when I haven't been shown love. A Happy because I am forgiven. And in turn I can forgive my friends. Even when they disappoint me.
How about it?
If we are truly following him.... How will we respond differently when our friends mistreat us?