As the annals of history are compiled and the time that God has set for each and every individual on this planet draws ever so near to grinding halt, the world around us is not static. It’s ever changing, there are new viruses emerging, new state-of-the-art architecture being crafted, the language is changing and so are the dynamics of people relationally. This is particularly true for friendships in the body of Christ. There are different reasons why this is so, and what I am attempting to do is to scale the Kilimanjaro with little or inadequate gear, and inappropriate camping equipment, none-the-less I am going to climb this mountain. So, what is it that makes Christians friendships complex, particularly in this age?
Lack of transparency
The digital age has enabled people to communicate with multiple people but still lack transparency in things like where abouts, new friends, places of recreation, sin struggles and who somebody really is. There are a lot of Christians in the body of Christ that need unmasking, but that’s an issue to be tackled another day. This lack of transparency affects friendships in a lot of negative ways. If you are in the dark in terms of what your friend has become and you incessantly ask what they are going through, but never get an answer, how can you better serve or assist that person? If that person is constantly avoiding confrontation and communication, the once strong strand that held your fellowship together will start to get stretched and finally snap. The book of Proverbs is a good place to look for wisdom in the Scriptures & it is quite striking what it has to say about people who suddenly become mysterious and secretive. The word of God emphatically reads, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.” Proverbs 18:1 (ESV). Dear Christian next time you see your friend being as slippery as an eel or simply avoiding you, it should be a ‘red flag’ moment – something is wrong.
No room for counsel
We live in an offended world. Everyone is offended by something or someone, and this has become the latest ‘get out of jail free card’ for many Christians. This has hindered a lot from being able to give wise counsel to friends or to rebuke them gently when they are straying. A couple of examples may include a friendship that has been severed because a sister who has the habit of dressing immodestly and has been confronted about her sin by her brother in the Lord. There are actually times that Pastors are afraid to speak out on such issues in their congregations because they fear they maybe hated or people may leave. What then is the result of all of this? Well friendships are shallow, they lack depth and fiber, and they lack the sincerity wrought by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Worldliness/lack of Christian growth
I have decided to hit two birds with one stone by combining what really should be two separate headings, however I am convinced that they go hand in hand. Worldliness & lack of Christian growth are evenly yoked. When one’s entertainment, outlook on life and way of living does not mesh with the Bible, that person will not grow in the Christian faith. They will be what the writer of Hebrews describes as those who are still learner’s but ought to be teachers – they need milk instead of bones (Hebrews 5:12). When Christians who started off at par spiritually start to drift, one of the causes may be that one is growing in the faith and the other one is growing in the world, an inevitable separation is taking place, just as the great separation that will take place when Jesus separates none-believers from believers (goats and sheep) Matthew 25:32. Most people panic when this happens, but I assure you this indeed is necessary for two reasons, the one who is growing spiritually may at one point be weighed down or stumbled by the one who is just seemingly not growing, and the one who has chosen a path that does not please the Lord will need disciplining from the Lord. This may seem harsh or insensitive, however the Bible teaches us to abhor what is evil, so invariably the objective truth of God’s word always wins. The friendship will have to go – at least at some point. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is patience, however when your spiritual growth is at stake, your patience is likely to wane.
This is always an issue that plagues a lot of Christian friendships. You and your friend love the doctrines of grace, you savor the 5 points of Calvinism, however your dear brother starts to subscribe to different doctrines and starts following the likes of Bill Johnson. This is a scenario that is very common, your friendship started off like a house on fire, but well, in the end, it burnt down. Some friendships do survive and continue working, but the widening chasm cannot be missed. “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3 ESV).
All things work together for good
I will not spend much time on other issues that may cause problems in Christians friendships as I am not all knowing, but God is, and the secret things belong to God. Amongst a host of other things people can genuinely drift apart due to being in different places, different priorities, developing different interests and none of the parties actively pursuing, or intentionally trying to work away at the friendship. If you are a Christian, in this ever changing world, and these ever evolving friendships, the wonder that God sends people your way for different reasons to ultimately accomplish His purposes in your life, rest in this truth, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV)
Article by Joe Shoko