Last time we met at Belong I spoke about overcoming weird times in friendship. Vulnerably, I shared some humbling ways the Lord needed to teach me about being a good friend. I trust I’m not the only who’s ever thought they were a bad friend. While on my quest to find the perfect friend, Jesus broke through with such strength and light. What I was most surprised by was how making Jesus my perfect friend would affect all my other friendships! Some of the problems that plagued my friendship attitudes were brought out into the light as Jesus gently guided me into a deeper relationship with Him.
How Jesus changed my friendships
Enough – No matter what they do, does it seem like it’s never enough? They weren’t warm enough, they weren’t open enough, giving enough, friendly enough, concerned enough or happy-to-see-you enough. It could be that you have been coming to your friends to satisfy a part of you that only Jesus can. When we expect our friends to be our enough they will always be such a disappointment to us. But when you come to Jesus and open your heart to let Him fill you full of His love, He is more than enough.
John 4:14 …whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Have you also experienced a “never enough” time in your friendships?
Are you ready to expect more out of Jesus?
Selfless – When you consider making someone your friend, do you weigh in your mind how much you can get from them vs. how much you will give to them? We may do this very subtly and not even notice it. And in these times it can be considered a completely normal thought process. This world is always telling us to put ourselves first… get what you can…It’s all about you… and build yourself a fan club that knows it’s all about you…
When you allow Jesus to become the most influential person in your life, He turns this whole mindset upside down. He tells us that the last will be first and the first will last. Jesus takes our friendships from “What can I get” to “What can I give you”. You will be amazed at the transformation of your friendships when you understand that it’s not all about you. Whenever I experienced a friend who was moody or cold, I always thought that it was definitely something that I did or said. It would cause me to withdrawal a little bit from them at a time when they needed my friendship most. My self-centered mindset kept me from being the friend they needed. Jesus helps us understand that “It ain’t about you!”
2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
In what ways have you seen a self-centered attitude at work in your friendships?
What will you do to conquer selfishness in your friendships?
Deeper – Are wondering why your friendships seem shallow and unsatisfying. You could be surrounded by friends, but you still feel very lonely and unsatisfied. There are many barriers that keep us from having a deep bond with people. Mostly it is because we want to protect ourselves. To go deeper means to open yourself up. To be vulnerable. Allow others to see the real you can be scary. What if they reject me?! Or see me as incompetent?! What if they confirm my suspicion that I am as weird as I think I am and they go running the opposite direction! It can be scary to open up to friends especially if you’ve had a rough experience with it in the past.
Being open and vulnerable with Jesus is not an option. He really won’t have it any other way. Even when we try to hide parts of ourselves from him he has a way of drawing us out, like only He can. You need to understand that while people are capable of letting us down when we make ourselves vulnerable, Jesus will not. He is the safest Person you could ever take emotional risks with. Something amazing happens when we are real and trusting with Jesus. He sends us out into the world armed with such confidence and security. We go into our friendships with genuine love, knowing that we are ALREADY accepted and it completely transforms the relationship. Now I can easily show my vulnerabilities with friends because I know that even when a friend denies me the acceptance I would hope for, I am not destroyed. I am firmly planted on the Rock of Salvation far from the fickle sand of the human heart and safe from the pit of self-pity.
Like the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany. Read Mark 14:3-9. She vulnerably made a public display of affection toward her savior by pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ head. The onlookers rebuked her harshly. But she did not cower at their comments or hesitate at their heckling. Her Jesus spoke up for her saying, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me…and it will be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is preached.”
think with me
So what if your relationship with Jesus seems shallow and unsatisfying? Happens to me all the time. Mostly because I ignore Him, don’t make time for him and then withdrawal from Him because I feel bad. It’s so sad. But I have never regretted coming to Him and acknowledging the awkwardness of being out of touch. It can feel forced at first, to come to Him when it’s been a while. But the feelings are all self-induced. Jesus welcomes me and never condemns me. Like a good friend, he simply wants to pick up where we left off. The sooner I get over myself and my failures, the sooner He can pour into my spirit again. I pick up my dusty bible and hold it close. I open my hymnal to my favorite verses. I confess. I cry. I read His words. I hear his love for me. And he makes me new. He makes me strong, firm and secure.
Why do you pull away when He reaches out? Why do you recoil? Because if you believe that Jesus died on the cross then you believe that the shame you feel is the reason He died. He accepts you, all your mess. He is perfect so you don’t have to be. Life apart from Him is no life at all.
What is keeping you from coming closer to Jesus?
What will you do today to open yourself to Him?
This is a great time to find a friend who can answer your questions about Jesus.