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What Christian Friendships Look Like + a few things God has been teaching me (PART 1)



One of the biggest things I've been praying for God's wisdom on is friendship. I desire deep, intentional friendships, but if I'm being honest, that can be really hard to find and cultivate. You don't stumble upon this kind of friendship, and it takes some work, but that is the kind of friendship the Lord has designed us to enjoy.


I am so passionate about my people. I'm so passionate about learning how to love them in the way God has called us to, and it's something the Lord has been convicting me so much over. We've all been hurt by our friends before, by drama and draining situations, but despite all of that, we have always been created to love and to be loved, and when we navigate our relationships with the peace and grace of Jesus, then healthy, life giving friendships are possible. I'm by no means perfect, and figuring things out just like everyone else, but God has been teaching me some very specific things that I want to share. There's so much, so this is going to be a two-part series, with the next post coming out on Friday.


We love best when we have been filled up by the Lord's love.

The other night I was praying and I told God that I had so much love to give to my friends. I have so much to invest and pour into them, and He told me that's because I've had to go through a season being filled by His love. The past months have felt quite lonely, but that was an intentional time that the Lord had designed so that I would be able to be filled by Him, experience His love in a new way, and shift my perspective on my friendships. Because if we go into any relationship looking to be filled or poured into, then we are on a fast track to disappointment and bitterness.


We must first be filled by the Lord, and it is then, and only then, that He will empower us to love on our people in a new way. It is only then that we can create a new intimacy and demonstrate a new kind of grace towards our friends, because we have already experienced that with the God of the universe, and we are already filled by His love. Our friendships should be an overflow of all the grace and love that the Lord has poured into us.


And when we love and serve our friends selflessly, not expecting anything in return but simply out of all that God has given us, that is a sign of that Lord's work in our life. That is our living and breathing testimony of the kindness He has shown us, and it will be evidence to the world around us that we can do friendships differently.


Application tip:

  • We must first experience the closeness and love of Christ before we can experience closeness and love with our people. Be intentional about seeking the Lord in the quiet, still spaces, and make room for Him to work on your heart. This isn't a quick, easy process - it takes time and pruning - but the Lord will speak to you and show you what He is doing in His timing, and that will eventually allow you to cultivate deeper, healthier friendships.


Notice the small things and be an initiator.

The other night I was praying about friendship and asked the Lord to lead me to whatever part of Scripture He wanted me to read and learn from. I found my way to John 1, where I saw Jesus' example of what it looks like to be a good friend in a new way.


You see, when Jesus called His disciples, He sought them out. He met them right where they were at, and invited them to join Him. If we want to have a community of people around us, people we can pour into and love on, people who are encouraging and godly, we have to take the first step. We cannot wait around for our friends to simply appear. We have to learn how to be an initiator and reach out to the people that the Lord has placed on our hearts. When you pray over your friendships and your desire for community, be still and ask the Lord who He wants you to reach out to and pour into. Allow Him an opportunity to show you where to start and how to initiate this, and it might be an open door for a new friendship or a deeper one.


One of the men Jesus had invited to join Him was Nathanael. Nathanael understandably wanted to know how Jesus knew him (because we would all be a little confused if a stranger randomly asked us to follow him), and Jesus told Nathanael that He saw him when he was under the fig tree (which was incredibly specific). Jesus noticed this man, and in the same way, we are called to notice the people that God has put right in front of us. Maybe it's someone God has put on your heart to love on, or maybe it's as simple as noticing someone's beauty, spiritual growth, or a strength of theirs. To be a good, godly friend, we must be like Jesus and take the time to notice the people around us and help them feel seen.


Application tip:

  • Ask God to show you one person He wants you to reach out and invite to do something. Maybe it's going out for lunch or a special drink, or maybe it's just an invitation to have a conversation with them. But take the first step.

  • While you go about whatever your schedule holds today, go into each place prayerfully and with open eyes. Ask the Lord to show you each person through His eyes, and notice them as He does. But don't just stop there - go the extra mile and tell them. Tell them that they have a beautiful smile, that you see how they extended grace to that difficult person, that they are really good at being an encouragement and making people laugh.


Celebrate others.

Just because a friend is thriving does not mean that you aren't thriving too. Too often, our friendships are hindered because we quickly become jealous when we watch our people succeed, maybe in a way we aren't, instead of celebrating them and cheering them on. But in Scripture we are told that each and everyone of us have our own gifts, and God is doing good things in each of our own lives in His perfect timing. We need to be the kind of friend (and person in general) who lifts up the people around us and celebrates all the beautiful things happening in their life, and not someone who instead chooses to complain and become bitter when that doesn't happen to us. When we choose to celebrate our people, our friendships will have the foundation of joy and love, and that is so important if we want to cultivate strong, godly relationships.


Application tip:

  • Today, recognize a good thing happening in one of your friends' life, and celebrate that with them. Maybe this looks like bringing a friend a special treat to celebrate an accomplishment, sending them an "I'm proud of you text", or simply hugging them to tell them that you see the way God is working in their life. Whatever it looks like, make it personal and intentional.

 

Like I said earlier, I don't have this friendship thing all figured out. God is teaching me so much and continuously working on my heart, molding me to be the kind of friend He calls me to be, and I'm so thankful for His patience with me. And to be completely honest, we cannot be good friends until we sit down and learn from the best Friend - Jesus.


What has God taught you or been teaching you about friendships lately? What qualities do you think a good, godly friend has? I'd love to hear down in the comments below!


Stay tuned for part two of this series on friendship coming out on Friday, and subscribe for email notifications on when new posts come out!

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