5 Essentials of Christian Friendship
Last week, I had a really good conversation with a group of college students about what it means to be a good, Christian friend. When you stop and think about it, this is an important thing for us as Christians to always be mindful of. After all, so much of our life is defined by our relationships with other people.
To help them think through how they can bear witness to their faith through their friendships with others, I shared with them what I believe are the 5 essentials of Christian friendship.
I hope these essentials will help you think about the type of friends you want to surround yourself with. But more importantly, I hope they encourage you to think about the type of friend you need to be for others, and what things in your life might need to change in order to care for others like Christ cares for you.
First Essential: A Christian friend prays for you and encourages you to grow in your relationship with Christ
While we treasure the close relationships we have with our friends, nothing shows that we care for them more like encouraging them in their most important relationship of all, their relationship with Christ. By praying for our friends and encouraging them in their walk with the Lord, we’re not only seeking what’s best for their lives, but we’re also seeking what’s best for us. That’s because there is no better, truer, or kinder friend than the one who strives to love you like Christ loves them.
Second Essential: A Christian friend sticks by your side in good times and bad
When you read about Jesus’ life and ministry, you immediately realize that Jesus spent a lot of time going to parties and other celebrations. That’s because Jesus understood the importance of stopping to celebrate others when good things happened to them. When good things happen to, or because of, your friend, take time to celebrate the good times. However, while it’s easy to be there for our friends when times are good, God also expects us to be there for our friends when times are bad. Job was a man who suffered things we can’t begin to imagine. When his friends heard of his troubles, three of them decided to go and comfort their friend. However, when they arrived, all they could do was weep and mourn with their friend. They didn’t have to say or do anything to try and make things better. All they had to do was remind their friend that they didn’t have to suffer alone. Sometimes, that’s all we can and should do too.
Third Essential: A Christian friend helps keep their friends accountable
Good friends tell each other when they’re doing good, as well as when they’re doing bad. While a Christian friend is called to help keep their friends accountable for what they say and do (and conversely, what they don’t say or don’t do) they are likewise supposed to be kept accountable by their friends. Bearing witness to a mature, trusting faith means that we take the words of Proverbs 19:20 to heart and share/accept the accountability which friendships offer: “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”
Fourth Essential: A Christian friend doesn’t just surround themselves with other Christians
I can’t say this enough. DON’T JUST SURROUND YOURSELF WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS. Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, constantly sought out relationships with people who didn’t look, act, or think like Him. He felt called to friendships with all of God’s children, whether they believed in God or not. Doing so allowed the world to see that He’d come to love, serve, and save everyone – not just the “religious” people. So, do yourself a favor and step outside of your comfort zone to make meaningful friendships with someone of a different race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.
Fifth Essential: A Christian friend doesn’t beat people over the head with their beliefs or the Bible
There will be times when we disagree with our friends, whether they be Christians or non-Christians. Because we always want to be right (sorry folks, that’s just human nature) it’s easy for us to use our beliefs and/or the Bible to try and justify our positions or point of view. While that’s not always a bad thing, how we go about communicating our disagreements with others is of the upmost importance. After all, we as Christians are messengers of God’s love to our friends. Because of that, we’re supposed to do as 2 Timothy 2:24-26 says, and share the truth of God’s love with love, so that our friends may be built up rather than torn down.