The biggest problem we have when it comes to friendship is we think friendship is about us rather than other people.
Paul who wrote the book of Philippians knew the difference. Friendship and community were not for himself, but about other people and it’s also about a mission. So, Paul viewed his friendships and his relationships with these two components – other people and mission.
First, we have to be about the purposes of God.
Second, it’s about other people.
This is friendship.
When we go to our friends looking for them to help us solve our problems, this often becomes a big barrier to healthy friendships and relationships. To the professionals and experts, they have a big clinical term for this – co-dependency. And this kind of friendship will become destructive in the end.
When we go to people to have them solve our problems or we go to them to help them solve their problems, instead of helping each other go to God first, we end up disappointed.
You see, when God is at the centre of our friendships and relationships, conflict can be managed. People can disappoint us. We can hurt other people. But we know how to process our emotions and forgiveness is not withheld because we aren’t looking for our identity, hope or purpose in the other person.
We don’t look at people to fulfil us. Rather we look to God and realize God has built a community to be a picture of Him. This picture means loving people even when they disappoint us and even when they disagree with us and when there are fighting and division, we work through it. This love is based on the cross and death to ourselves. When we get this right, things will make sense and start to work.
Rather than going into a community and looking for what others can give us, expecting others to fulfil us, we instead go into the community looking at how we can love them better, and how we can point them to Christ. This changes the whole foundation of friendship, not like how the culture does friendship.
We all need to build a culture of healthy friendships. And let me include a short admonition about gossip. Let me say it straight – if you have friends who are constantly talking about other people with you, here’s the truth, when you’re not there, they’re talking about you.
Gossip will never be reserved only to people that you all don’t like, it will creep into the things you don’t like about each other. And get this, on any given day, you won’t like each other. So, yes, we got to build a healthy culture of friendship.
Let our friendship go in the right direction. Let’s avoid speaking ill about each other. Let’s assume the best of each other and protect each other. May we never allow an unsafe culture in our friendships and relationships. When a culture is unsafe, there is no place to thrive and we have no place to share our issues, weaknesses, failures, or to actually be broken. Because brokenness has to be accepted somewhere in our lives, or we will not find healing and we’ll never be healthy.
So, how do we do this?
I have three suggestions.
One, have that awkward conversation of sitting down with each other and setting some ground rules.
Two, set the ground rules in your conversations. Say, for example, let’s not talk about other people in the guise of praying for them, or let’s not talk about other people’s weaknesses.
Three, agree to remind each other when you slip into talking about other people.
Healthy people make healthy friendships.
We are created and made for a relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything else falls short. It is my prayer you walk away after reading this post knowing Jesus better or wanting to know Him even more. Let’s figure this out together because we don’t want to waste our lives.
Again, let’s go into our friendships and community looking to love others better, just the way Jesus has instructed us. And let’s abolish gossip in our friendships. Instead, may our friendships be a safe place for people to come and gather together.