We make decisions every single day, some decisions ripple out to hugely affect our lives while others last only an instant. I am convinced the greatest decisions we will ever make in life involve relationships. The most important is to have a relationship with Jesus. The second being the person you decide to spend your life with. I think every friendship we choose is important because every relationship has the potential to alter our lives, and likely will in some way.
The people we choose to be around will always influence us. Sometimes subtly, sometimes greatly and the longer the exposure, the greater the influence. This is why I encourage you to daily spend time with Jesus and in His word because in doing we increase His influence in our lives.
Bottom line: WE NEED RELATIONSHIPS. Look at the creation story in Genesis. God creating and every time He finishes He says, “It is good.” Over and over, “It is good.” Then He looks down at man and says, “It is not good…”
Genesis 2:18 (ESV) Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
It is not good to try and go through life without friendships to help guide us. The lie is that you don’t need help. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but you cannot do this Christian thing on your own. You need encouragement, motivation and accountability. Someone to ask you tough questions when you don’t want to answer them. All of those things come from relationship.
We must follow the example of Jesus. He isolated Himself for the purpose of prayer, but when it came to living life He surrounded himself with people. He selected twelve to bring into His inner circle. To go through life with. To pour Himself into. What I love is that Jesus didn’t just pick any people. He was choosy.
Luke 6:12-13 (ESV) In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles…
In life it isn’t important only to have relationships, but to choose the right relationships. I mean relationships that will help you move toward your purpose. Often our only condition for friendship is that we have a similar interest or we can laugh together. That’s important, but if you aren’t going the same direction in life then it may not be a good relationship for you to engage in.
We have to choose our purpose over our interests. Yesterday we looked at when Jesus recruited Peter. I promise Peter didn’t follow Jesus because He shared his love of fishing. Peter recognized if he went with Jesus he would have a new purpose. Jesus would take Peter from a fisherman to a Kingdom builder.
A good way to look at this is to ask some questions. Do I want to share the same life destination of my friends? Do I really want to be like them? If not then it’s time to find some new friends, because over time you will become more like your friends whether you want to or not.
Luke 5:27-28 (NLT) Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. 28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
Levi recognized that His purpose in Jesus was greater than his purpose as a tax collector. He left everything. His career. All of his current relationships. Why? For the sake of receiving from a relationship with Jesus. For us as Christians, our purpose in pursuing Jesus should be the standard. If we have any friendships that aren’t pulling us closer to Jesus then we need to take a step back.
That’s not to say we have NO contact with non Christians. You can’t show people the love of Jesus if you never associate with them. However, you can’t lead them to Jesus if they are influencing you to sin.
I hope I’m not making it seem like this is easy. Making friends can be hard, but we can’t just give up and become hermits. We must look for people who possess the qualities we want to possess and then intentionally pursue friendship with then. It means we have to put in some effort. As awkward as it might be we can’t just wait for people to come to us. It’s ok to take the initiative and be friendly. The best way to make a friend is to be a friend. Invite people out to lunch. Be open and be real.
We need honest friendships. I’m talking about the ones where we don’t have to hide our issues. We need to choose authenticity in our friendships. No more surface relationships. We need people who we can be real with when we’re hurting. We don’t have to fake a smile, but we can just be ourselves.
Too often when we are experiencing hurt we have this instinct to withdraw from people. We think that it helps to be alone, but in fact it worsens and prolongs our state of pain or depression. Healing happens within the context of community. They say time heals all wounds, but too often time buries the hurt deeper down so we feel it less. However, God does heal and many times He will use our relationships as the pathway to that healing
We can’t stay isolated. We need friendships in our lives to be healthy, but not just any friends, the right friends. The ones who encourage us in our walk with God. The ones who share our purpose. People who we can real with and don’t have to put on a mask. People who aren’t just around for fun, but we can go through life with for the long haul. Specific people that God has brought into our life. People who God can use to bring healing, instead of prolonging our hurt.
When Jesus was choosing the twelve, He prayed all night. He had many many followers, but He selected a carefully chosen few to bring in close. Can I tell you, we don’t need anymore Facebook friends, but we need close friends. It’s ok to pray and ask the Lord to bring them into your life. He will.