Thursday, February 24, 2011

Layers of friendship.

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

Relationships. The most important part of life. There isn't anything else that matters as much in life. Without relationships life would be miserable, lonely, boring and just plain pitiful. Relationships. The most important part of life....and the most difficult part of life. Endless amounts of tears are shed over relationships, the closer, the more devoted the more dear to our hearts the relationship the more tears, tears of joy and tears of sorrow.

God made relationships His biggest priority and because He values relationships so much, so should we. The Bible is all about how to handle relationships, from the most intimate to the least intimate, strangers and even enemies.

The main point of this blog is friendship. A relationship far different than family, neighbors, co-workers or people we worship with on Sunday. Friends are chosen, this is the main distinction from other relationships, most all other relationships are chosen for us {family, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, ect....}

Friendships come in layers, the visual that comes to my mind is one person standing alone with three or four other people standing around them in a close tight circle, with the next layer of about ten people circling those people, then 20 more people circling around them, then 40, then 80 and so on. We all have to stand alone at times, but life would be impossible or at least sad and lonely if we weren't layered up with friends and acquaintances.

If we are serious about making life choices based on what God wants us to do and God gave us Jesus’ life to use as a model, then can we learn about the “layers of friendship” from Jesus' life? I think so.

••When it comes to the closest of our friendships, are we showing favoritism or is it permissible to have relationships that are closer and more intimate than others, those people that God has clearly put in our life for a deliberate purpose••

If we use Jesus' life as an example then we can use His relationships with the twelve disciples as an example of how friendship can and will be. Jesus was perfect in every way even in His friendships, we of course are not, so all of our relationships will be flawed in some way but we can still learn from Jesus in regards to friendship.

Jesus chose a wide variety of men to be His twelve disciples, these were the people that Jesus spent most of His time with, these were the people He could depend on,{most of the time}but since they were mere humans they disappointed Jesus on occasion. They were there for Jesus and Jesus was there for them. They traveled together, they worked together, and they ate and rested together. I would even venture to say that Jesus and His boys laughed a lot to. Just think of all of the crazy, exciting and interesting things they saw while they were together.

Someone once said that we are lucky to have two or three really close friends in a life time. By really close I mean someone that you can spend unlimited time with, someone that you can be truly honest with, someone that accepts your faults and weaknesses. Someone that wants the best for you, someone that will encourage you to be more than you ever thought you could be, someone that will not let you get by with bad behavior and someone that will help stretch you in all areas of your life, especially the most important areas of life, your relationship with God and your ability to love others. If you have a friend that will stand strong with you in these areas, you have a true friend. God wants us to love everyone, be kind to everyone including strangers but God also expects us to nurture the relationships that He has {purposefully} created for us, the ones that for whatever reason have more depth to them.

John 13:23

{One} of them, {the disciple} whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

In thinking through Jesus’ friendships I can’t help but wonder about His relationships with those men that were sometimes called, His "inner circle," James, John and Peter. These three men had a more intimate relationship with Jesus than the other nine. Jesus called on them more often than the others, He invited them to some of the most important events ever recorded, these men were closer to Jesus than the others. Was Jesus showing favoritism??? I don't think so, He was perfect and favoritism is not a practice He would have participated in. I think that Jesus’ inner circle and His other nine disciples give us a great example of "layers of friendship." We all have people that we are closer to than others, it’s not intentional it just happens this way. God calls us to have deep heart felt relationships with people, and it is impossible to have that depth of relationship with everyone we meet and I believe this is where God allows for us to have "layers of friendships", some people that we have a deeper, stronger bond with, people we enjoy being with for certain occasions, people that we see and talk with sporadically and the people we see and just say hello to in passing. These are what I call "layers of friendship."

Is there a difference between being a part of a clique’ and having a few very close friends. A clique’ to me is a group of people that are not accepting of anyone else. If you have an inner circle of friends that is not loving others, being kind and welcoming to everyone, then there is a problem. Our inner circle of friends should be encouraging us to love others, to welcome new friends, to go out of our way to reach out to people that don’t have friends, even those that appear to be unlovable. A Godly inner circle of friends wants you to be pursuing Godliness, which ultimately means loving as many people as you possibly can.

Is your inner circle of friends encouraging

you to be all that God wants you to be?

Proverbs 12:26

"The righteous choose their friends carefully,

but the way of the wicked leads them astray."