It is devastating when a friendship ends especially if that relationship had been cultivated/tolerated over many years. The grief associated with such a loss can be equivalent to the grief experienced with a death. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family” (MSG). I wonder why are true, life-changing, dynamic friendships so difficult to develop and maintain? And, what does a true friend look like, anyway?
Let us examine the friendship of Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:21-25 to find a perfect model for Christian friendship. Jesus was truthful even when it came to discussing unpopular topics (verse 21). He was approachable and created an environment for authentic confrontation (verse 22). Jesus’ advice always pointed heaven-ward, solidly aligned with God’s ways (verse 23). And, because of His love for His friends, Jesus spiritually challenged them to make righteous choices and to get their priorities in check (verses 24, 25).
In light of the model, we can come to a better understanding of the shallowness and inevitable destruction of some of our Christian friendships. Our churches are filled with small groups, auxiliaries, and circles that are designed to foster friendly relationships. However, these connections are often restricted only to the church or are very superficial. Everyone wants to sugar coat the tough topics like sex, masturbation, shacking-up, out of wedlock pregnancy, the lack of or improper Scripture usage by leadership, incest, gambling, confusion about one’s salvation, or guilt about spending the rent money on a new pair of shoes.
The reality is that every member of the group is probably struggling with the same issue (which is why the group was formed in the first place) and is longing for someone to be courageous and transparent enough to say, “I struggle with that, too. This is how God is teaching me to deal with it” then she proceeds to open the Bible to passages that have aided her in her struggle. If we truly bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), share one another’s joys and sorrows (Romans 12:15), challenge and encourage each other with the Word not our own wisdom, then we are true friends.
Jesus said “you are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). Friendships that terminate are probably best left dead especially if it was a relationship that did not cherish the pursuit to know the things of God in every situation. Let’s help one another find the solutions to life’s problems that every Christian is facing, but let us do it in a way that obeys the commands of God.