All of us desire true friendship. I talk with many people who express a frustration with the lack of friendships or lack of depth in friendships they have. Technology gives us a taste of friendship, but is only a facade compared to authentic friendship.
In her book Alone Together, Sherry Turkle argues that technology has made us into people who are constantly connected, but never experiencing community; never alone and always alone. Technology for sure has it’s benefits (i.e. talking to loved ones who are overseas, keeping in touch with good friends who have moved away), but when overused leaves us with a shell of the friendship we were meant for, yet gives us enough to spoil our appetite for genuine friendships. I’ve found when I take time to turn my phone off I feel a greater desire to call someone up and spend time with them face-to-face.
Tim Keller says, “To be fully loved but not known is great but superficial. To be fully known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and fully loved is heaven.” This describes a relationship with God first and foremost, but it also describes true friendship.
What is a friend?
Most of the time the world describes a friend as someone you laugh with, makes you happy, have a lot in common with and who accepts you as you are and never asks you to change.
The Bible defines a friend differently.
3 common themes stand out about true friendship as defined in the Bible:
A good friend is…
- Grows you in Christlikeness
- Pushes you to Christ
A true friend is faithful at all times, not just when it’s all fun and good times. A true friend grows you to be more like Jesus. They don’t accept all of who you are, but are willing to call you out on things that aren’t in step with Godliness in a humble, caring and gracious way. This characteristic in friendship is increasingly rare due to a growing perception in our culture that to disagree with someone or not accept something about them equals hating them. A true friend pushes you to Christ. They pick you up when you’ve fallen down, remind you of His grace when you’ve messed up, urge you to trust him when you’ve begun trusting in other things.
Where do I find these friends?
If you look at your life and don’t see any friendships like these don’t worry, you are not alone in your struggle. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
Pray God would give you Godly friends like this. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Seek Godly friendships in church, your workplace, your school. Actively think about where you could find friends like this. Think about the people you know who exhibit these characteristics of a Godly friend. Knock on doors. Ask them to hang out, multiple times in a row. People can be stuck in their ways and if you out of sight out of mind you need to put yourself regularly in their sight and in their mind. It takes time but a friendship will grow slowly but surely.
Fully known and fully loved, finally
Most of all do not despair because whether you realized it or not you DO have a Godly, faithful friend. His name is Jesus. He is the ultimate friend. He is faithful to the end, Godly as Godly gets, committed to your growth in Christlikeness, and reminds you always to trust in him. By him we are fully known and fully loved!
If you believe the good news of the gospel then you have found someone to love. More importantly you have found someone who deeply loves you and the marks on his hands are the proof. The question then becomes, who can I find to imitate this Godly love with? Ask, seek and knock, if God hasn’t withheld his own son, why would he withhold Godly friendships from us?