3 Ways to Strengthen Your Friendships
Friends. You need them. I need them. But how do we make and keep some good ones?
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” — Galatians 4:4-6
Here we see every person of the Trinity showing us that biblical community operates less like friends and more like family.
So, how do we live like that?
1. Listen to Spiritual Mothers and Fathers
No matter your family background, Jesus wants us all to know the safety of what it means to live under the guidance of spiritual mothers and fathers. This is one of the things that the apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth.
“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” — 1 Corinthians 4:15-16
Papa Paul had no interest in being a cool guide or guru. He wanted more skin in the game than that. He said, “Look at me. I am your spiritual dad. I want to protect and guide you. Follow me because I am just following Jesus.”
He did this with many spiritual sons and daughters in Scripture. In so many of his letters, he talks about how much he misses his extended church family all over the known world and remembers them with tears. He was a full-on dad. We all need spiritual moms and dads like that!
Who is the older man or woman around you that you need to call and invite into your life? Or, who is the younger person that you need to reach out to and help along this crazy journey of following Jesus?
2. Identify as a Son or Daughter
The first thing God desires for us is that we understand what it means to be a child in the family of God. This is vitally important when it comes to building friendships. If the Bible tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” then our personal identity has to be viewed rightly before anything else. The moment you receive Jesus Christ, “child” is your number one title forever. We can never outgrow this.
Did you know that the Father enjoys you the way He enjoys Jesus? When He looks at you, it is only with the greatest pride and joy and adoration and complete and total love.
If we understand that, then it will be our joy to do two things as sons and daughters:
1. Stay in the house
2. Submit to the house
Sons and daughters, regardless of culture or conflict or what name is on the church sign, stay in the house of God. You move cities? Find a house and submit to the house. Schedules get busy? Stay in the house and submit to the house. You start having doubts and real tragedy happens in your life and you begin to question God, faith, and the reality of all this? Stay in the house and submit to the house.
You will have things you disagree with. People will hurt you because they’re people. But ultimately, pick a house, stay in the house, and submit to the house. Do not, under any circumstances, run away from “home.” The Church is no less Christ’s bride than it was 2,000 years ago. This is His beloved method of community and family for us all.
3. Live honest and open lives with brothers and sisters.
All cards on the table, friendships have been one of my life’s greatest joys. I have laughed until I peed my pants and I have fought until my heart broke. If there is one thing I have learned, great friendships need people who will do both — and do it with their whole hearts.
That’s why more great friendships don’t exist, because they are done half-heartedly. We are too afraid to bare it all, to look too emotionally naked, and to get our feelings hurt. I get it, because many of us have been deeply hurt by someone who once masqueraded as our “friend.” And you know what? Jesus did, too. But I never see it keeping Him from loving with everything He has.
There is nothing in this life like a good friend. Fight to create close friendships — and keep them. Fight to show the world that we are not against each other; we are with each other and we are for each other. Be your true blue, battered, and beautiful self in front of a few people who have committed to fight for truth with you.