Serving, not Searching
Let’s be honest. When someone brings up an overfamiliar topic that we have heard a million times, we don’t want to listen. We don’t want to engage or challenge what we have been believing. We think we have it figured out already, so we say to ourselves, “Go ahead, give me your spiel, but I’m not the one who needs this information.” Let me challenge you to open your mind to a familiar question.
You’re wondering, where am I going with this? Well, frankly, I think I could go a lot of places. Places where I myself have adopted a way of thinking based off of what, most often society, has taught me. Nevertheless, I’m going to friendship.
Seeing the images of children being sent off to school, memories flood my mind of friendships. Isn’t this where most of our friendships began? We go to school thinking, “I need to have a friend”. People tell us we need to make friends, and lots of them. And making friends only gets more difficult, as we progress from childhood to adulthood.
Now, the issue isn’t that we should or shouldn’t have friends. We know that God told Adam that it was not good for man to be alone. We also see in the trinitarian nature of God – one God in three distinct persons – relationship is what we were created to have. Fittingly, our main issue as fallen humans is the broken relationship between us and God.
The effects of our broken relationship with God have not left our relationships with others unscathed.
So, why do so many of us think friendship should come easy? Why do many of us consider that it isn’t ourselves who need to learn how to be a friend, but rather others who fail at being a friend?
Don’t worry if you find yourself friendless or maybe just with many shallow relationships – you aren’t alone. Many of us desire to have that close knit relationship with someone. We desire that, because we were made to have that with God Himself.
Let’s do an exercise.
Picture a friendship.
The ideal friendship.
The friendship you want.
In this friendship, where does the burden lie? When you think of this friendship, are you considering the qualities of your friend, or are you considering the qualities of yourself? My knee-jerk reaction is to make a long list of qualities that I’d like in a friend. Wise? Absolutely. But it often stops there. We make a list of requirements for someone else to meet, while taking little to no consideration of our own qualities as a friend.
If you’re feeling called out, it’s okay, because I’m actually the guilty party I’m speaking of.
Because often I’m hypocritical in my list of friend qualifications. So where should I, and you, really start?
We want friends. We need friends (namely the body of Christ) to properly flourish as image bearers of God, but we are starting at the wrong point. We are starting at how someone else can serve us, instead of looking for those who we can serve.
Jesus sets a great example for us and it’s necessary to look to Him for the standard. He was God incarnate. He was completely sinless and wholly righteous. And yet, He called sinful people to Himself to be His disciples. Not only that, but He came with the aim to serve (Matt 20:28) and He was teaching His followers that they were to serve also.
Jesus was perfect. Literally perfect. He had no sin in Him. Yet, did He make a list of qualities that He wanted in a disciple? He did and it wasn’t a list that we would make, I can assure you. He said that those burdened under the weight of their own sin could come to Him (Matt 11:28).
He wanted the needy, who saw their great need for Him as their Redeemer and Lord. In scripture we find that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 26-28). He used sinful humans to build his Church. Yes, He chose those who were far off to bring them near. He chooses people who have no pedigree, nothing to offer, to be His.
Most importantly, friendship isn’t about you. It’s about Him. We are to make friends to make disciples. And then we are to love and care for our brethren in Christ. We are to serve in our friendships, as Jesus did – making the Lord known and laying our lives down in sacrificial love to that end.
So, let us consider, when we are piddling about in our own complaints, concerned about not having a “ride or die”, or a “BFF” that is up to our standards – up to the idealized friend we are looking for. Let’s open our eyes to the needs around us. Let’s put aside what we think is valuable and get to meeting needs, serving others in humble submission to the Lord. Let’s tell others of the Gospel and how He meets our need for friendship, so now we don’t have to put the burden of perfect friendship on someone else. Not only does He meet our deep need for friendship, He meets our greatest need to restore our relationship to God. Because of this, we can live in the overflow of the Perfect One and point others to Him as a result.
Let’s stop searching and start serving. You may just find a friend in the process.
Blessings in Christ,