I recently was having a conversation with my Dad. For those that know me, My Dad and I don’t have the closest relationship. My Dad over the years has made a lot of mistakes that negatively affected him, me, and my Mom. In this conversation, we began to talk about God and forgiveness. With many of the classes I take in college being on the study of Christianity and theology, he asked me the question: “Blake, your professors, have a lot of knowledge of God and books, but ask them this, how do I forgive myself for all the wrong that I’ve done?” I can confidently say at that moment I had no answer. The natural thing for me would be to say, “Give it to Jesus” but I believe that it’s much deeper than that.
In my life, I have met some amazing people. People that have challenged me to be better and people that have challenged me to change and to seek after Christ. It is because of the friendships that I have made that are centered around Christ that I’ve seen myself grow the most in the Lord. I mention this because I believe it is through Christian community and Christian friendships that we grow the most. What I mean by this is that when I have made mistakes, and am in times that I am hurting it has been the community of Christian friends that I have that have led me back to the cross. What can easily happen for Christians is that many times they are not surrounded by a community of believers and friends that lead them to Christ before all else. When we do not have a community around us, often isolation occurs, and a person is forced to attempt to deal with whatever they are struggling with. I believe that isolation is a friend of the enemy and is used by him to make us believe lies that we tell ourselves. The whole purpose of the grace of God is to give a forgiveness and a redefining of who we are. When we redefine our identity to be in Christ, we can never go back to the identity that we once held before. Christian friendship should seek to help others sustain their identity in the foundation that is Christ.
I believe there are three primary goals to Christian friendship and friendship in general:
We first must be an open ear to our friends and listen to the struggles, and even the joys that people are going through. When we have heard either the struggles or the joys, we then lift them up with encouragement that shows the care we have for them. And lastly, we lead them to Christ showing Him as the solution to the struggle, or the reason for the joy. The ultimate hope of Christian friendship is to walk the path’s of life with others and lead them to the path that leads to Calvary. The reason that my Dad struggles with forgiveness is that he does not have Christian friends that are showing him Christ, to whom he can give all his woes to. My hope in your reading this is that if you do not have friends that listen to you, lift you up, and lead you to Christ then I pray that you would seek out these kinds of friendships. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states:
“The Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
Are you a friend that listens, lifts, and leads? And do you have friends that listen, lift, and lead? Let’s all be people that remain in Christ and be Christ to the friends, and everyday people around us.