Posted on March 27, 2019
“Friends with Everyone” is the quest to love people in our lives well. God places people in our lives purposefully. As Christians, we are called to reach outside of our comfort zones in order to serve the people bordering our everyday lives.
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.
To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.
I have become all tings to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV (emphasis mine.)
Love finds common ground. Paul isn’t advising us to change for people in these verses. He’s challenging us to find common ground with the people in our lives. There is common ground to be found. It’s not an easy quest. There are lines we will be tempted to cross and company we wish would could keep closer. We will be called to ruffle a few feathers in righteousness. We will be left out, called out, questioned, and ridiculed. Being friends with everyone requires us to flip all of the hurt into forgiveness, and trust God with transformation.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV
We wouldn’t die for someone that hurt us. We wouldn’t die for someone who didn’t apologize for the hurt they caused …and we surely wouldn’t die for someone intent upon hurting us again. Jesus did. Compassion and kindness come from Him. All of us continue to fall short every day, yet the forgiveness Jesus died to grant us, to go before us and pave for us, isn’t effected by our inability to overcome the broken world we live in. He has already defeated what we could …and cannot. It. Is. Done. A true understanding of forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurt and allows the love of Christ to flow through our lives.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20 NIV
I believe we take this verse out of context when we use it as an excuse to shun people who are different from us. What good is all of our wisdom about Christ, if we hide from the people that don’t know what we know? Like Paul, through adversity …seek diversity. But we must keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He was friends with everyone, without sacrificing His mission.
Jesus had a close group of twelve friends, and out them three were extremely close to Jesus. Still one, John, was Jesus’ best friend on earth. We’re clearly called to choose our close circle of friends with care, but leave the door open. May our light reflect His Love.
I shudder to think of all the rich friendships I would have missed out on, had I not decided to leave my Monday morning Bible Study group open to anyone. Whether or not they go to church or believe in God is between them and Him. Our job is to open the door and share what we know.
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious- don’t get infected.” Proverbs 22:24-25 MSG
The more friends we have, the greater the risk of getting hurt. Learning how to survive devastating blows to our character and create healthy boundaries is all part of the package. Can I tell you something? It’s through our reaction to those situations that our faith is put on display the most.
Loving the people in our lives well leads us to brotherly and sisterly love. As we grow in wisdom and away from the lessons of our past, God is faithful to provide friends that are racing towards Christ alongside us. Never take these friends for granted. These are the best friends. The ones who don’t get all awkward and subject-change when we start to talk about Jesus. No, these are the friends who lean in to learn alongside of us. Every broken hearted moment is worth it to find these people in life. But we can’t stay there.
We are called to be friends with everyone.
Posted on February 17, 2016
The fog cast an erie lure of anxiety over the pier. It had enveloped the lighthouse, and I checked my footprints to make sure I hadn’t drifted off the pavement to the glazed-over river. I trekked on, trusting it was still out there beyond the mist. A wispy top-layer of snow revealed one single set of down and back footprints. All alone … I threw my arms up and let started to dance-walk to the new album I couldn’t stop listening to.
My quest to “be me” occasionally feels akin to walking down the pier in thick fog. I lose sight of what I know is there. God always has a way of breaking through the thickness with a shard of light. Many times, that glint of hope comes in the form of a friend.
There has been a book about friendship spinning around in my head for many years. Perhaps it circulates because I have never quite found an author that has addressed my trademark quest to “be friends with everyone.” I believe when God asks me to write about something, He has a lesson for me to learn and a story someone needs to hear. Research and reading unravel answers, but sometimes God uses people to pull it all together.
Making a new friend, or approaching a new season with an established one, takes a slow walk in humility. John 15:9 instructs us to “remain in His love,” and snap judgements and circles of gossip definitely lie outside of it. Walk in prayerful consideration to stop and think before saying or doing anything that could hurt another soul, especially one that is akin to your friendship; but without disregard for a sweet one you may be squashing before it’s given the opportunity to sprout buds and grow.
That foggy pier walk rekindled a revelation I’d had years back as a young runner. Comparing the trace of my tracks in the snow, one set revealed a wisp on the tail of my heal where I had drug my feet. The other set, after I noticed and corrected the problem, was nice and clean. Dragging feet cause runners overuse injuries from this mark of improper form. In my friendships, I’ve been challenged to peer into the past before before moving forward.
Don’t fear forgiveness …the asking or the receiving of it. You may open the door of relief for someone who needs to unload the burden of imperfections that they carry. We all carry them. “We all fall short.” (Romans 3:23) So, have mercy.
I picked up a cross necklace a few years back when I needed a constant visual reminder Jesus was with me no matter how tight the drama in my life was wound. The first time I put it on, I noticed an inscription on the back. “Be the change.” As a new coach implementing lots of changes, I took it as a sign I was running in pace with God’s plan. Really, it just meant to be me through the change.
Kindness can mean everything to someone living in a moment in which everything is crumbling. When my kids come to me annoyed with a classmate, the sting of past experience flares to the surface.
“There’s always something good you can find about a person,” I teach them, “Find it, and focus on that.”
Focus on the light beyond the fog.
Friends defy definition. Church friends, Bible study friends, high school and college friends, teammates, family, bloggers, work peers, neighbors and far away friends, Facebook friends, and authors who write words that resonate so much with our hearts that they feel like friends …and church that can feel like home even though it’s several states away from our actual homes.
I believe friends populate our lives because we were never created to walk out life’s lesson alone. We are the church. Set here to love the people in our lives. Jesus is the perfect definition of friendship. And because of Him we can go to our Great God in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). We weren’t meant to be alone. We can reach out to friends He’s placed in our lives to allow their light alongside ours to pierce through the fog.
Wow! Reading this reminded me how afraid I was to tell my story …worried that no one would be able to relate. The original post was the framework for a review of “The Gift of Friendship,” by Dawn Camp. I highly recommend it. Her words and the collective stories contributed to it came alongside me when I need to know that I was not alone.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned while writing my own book on friendship, “Friends with Everyone,” is to let go of fear and trust God’s timing and purpose for my story. Of course someone needs to read it. You know what?! I needed to read it! We are all placed in each others lives, purposefully, by a God who isn’t in the business of coincidence. Stay tuned for my next release …”Surface.”
Click here to grab your copy of Friends with Everyone …and Happy Reading!!!