Have you ever wondered to yourself what happened to those good old fashion friendships of yesterday? When we were growing up as kids there was no PlayStation, no X-Box One or Nintendo Wii for us to play on as children. We were told by our parents to go outside and play with the neighborhood kids, have fun and to be back in the house before the street lights came on. While we as kids were outside playing, our parents would be in the house talking with family relatives, the next door neighbors or with close friends. There would be some days where they would spend hours talking about life, family, or what was going on in the neighborhood. The women would be in the kitchen either preparing lunch or dinner so that later on everybody could sit down together and eat some good home cooked soul food. The adults would be listening to classic R&B music talking either in the living room, back yard or sitting on the front porch. No one judged one another or thought they were better than the next person in the room. If you were a kid and you tried to get in the middle of one of those adult conversations, your mother or father would tell you to stay out of grown folks conversations.
The quality of these genuine friendships was evident by how much adults spend time with one another talking for hours. However, all of that change over times as we became more focused on ourselves and less concern about others. As technology began to advance in our world, people have become more consumed with themselves through their electronic devices. People take selfie pictures became more important to us than those priceless moments when we could take pictures with those we call real friends. At some point in this noisy world as a generation and sadly in the church, we no longer see the benefits of genuine friendships in our lives. We would prefer to suffer alone in silence telling our selves the lie that we don’t need people in our business. However, I believe the Lord wants us to understand there are three important reasons why we need to treasure genuine friendships in our lives. The first reason why the Lord wants us to treasure genuine friendships in our lives is true friends make time for one another. The second reason why the Lord wants us to treasure genuine friendships in our lives is understanding that there are no strings attached in the friendship. Finally, the third reason why the Lord wants us to treasure genuine friendships in our lives is we learn to stand strong together in tough times.
A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).
Making time for one another
The first reason why the Lord wants us to treasure genuine friendships in our lives is true friends make time for one another. Once in a while, my wife, my daughter and I will get together and have a Starbucks night. My wife and I will get our laptops so that we can do some catching up on projects we are working on individually. My daughter, on the other hand, won’t bring her laptop but instead, will invite one of her good friends to come out with us so that the two of them can talk and hang out together. When we all get to Starbucks the girls get their favorite drinks, find an open table, and then spend time just talking with one another. They put their iPhones down on the table and talk about what good friends discuss when they are together. They don’t allow their electronic devices to be the center of their conversation, however, hearing what is going on in their lives as teenagers is what matters. They spend time about well they are doing in school and what challenges they might be having at that time. They respect one another opinion and share how they feel about different social issues our country is going through at the moment.
Unfortunately, we as adults and most teenagers are more focused on our social media accounts almost every minute of our day. We failed to understand that the time we spend online has us disconnected from important personal relationships. When we can be surrounded in a room for of people but still feel so distance not knowing how to properly relate with others. In the Message translation of the Bible, Proverbs 17:17 says “Friends love through all kinds of weather”. A genuine friendship is not developed by connecting with someone you know or don’t know through social media. A genuine friendship is built over time as two or three people spending time getting to know one another. It is about learning about each other interests, what convictions we have, and what standards live by in our lives.
There are no strings attached
The second reason why the Lord wants us to treasure genuine friendships in our lives is understanding that there are no strings attached in the friendship. When Jonathan formed his covenant relationship or friendship with David, he did so with no strings attached. His father King Saul ruled as the King of Israel and if something happened to his father, Jonathan would have been the next in line to the throne. However, the word of God says in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 “that the soul of Jonathan was knitted together with the soul of David”. Through the covenant friendship that both men had with each other Jonathan, willing gave his sword, his girdle, and his royal garments and placed them on David. Though King Saul saw David as a threat to his throne, his son Jonathan out of genuine friendship saw the vision of God as David being the Shepherd of Israel. As David learn about the great hostility that the King of Israel had toward him, David was very sympathetic to the strain their friendship had on Jonathan relationship with his father Saul. The friendship that both men demonstrated toward one another was so strong that Jonathan and David were not just allies but genuine friends who wanted God’s will to be done in both of their lives.
One of the things that I have always tried to do in the church is always tried to build a relationship with men in our church. I will make it a point to introduce myself and learn a little about them as well. If the opportunity afforded itself, I would try to exchange numbers with them so that I can try to answer in questions that may have. They may have some questions that may come up about the word of God, about our church services, or how often does our men’s meeting happen in the month. If we get to exchange numbers with one another I make it a point to just call that brother maybe once or twice a month just to say hello and share a word of encouragement with them. I have no hidden agenda behind what I do and there are no strings attached in me offering my hand in fellowship my brother in Christ. The word of God says in Psalms 133:1 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”! My desire is that every new man in the church feels welcomed, wanted, and needed in the House of the Lord.
Standing together in tough times
Finally, the third reason why the Lord wants us to treasure genuine friendships in our lives is we can learn to stand strong together in tough times. Every day there are people on Twitter either following someone or they are hope someone will follow and read their tweets. On LinkedIn people look to connect with other people in the business world to either network, find employment, or finding new clients for their business. On Facebook or Instagram people set up their profiles seeking to get people to be friends with them or they can be friends with others. However, it is important for us to understand that online connections can never take place of friendships which happen by face to face interaction. We can be connected to certain people online through one of the social media’s platforms today and if they choose to be disconnected from us within minutes. That is why we must seek to develop our friendships like David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi our friendships will be able to endure and tough times
Now let me provide some balance to this blog post that not every person that we meet will develop into a short or long term relationship. There are some people we see as being associates, some acquaintances, and maybe just one or two will blossom into a true friendship. The word of God says in John 15:14-15 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you”. The world will never know the witness of the genuine friendships we have because we attend church together. The world will never know the substance of genuine friendships we don’t hang around certain groups of people. However, the world we know the testimony of our friendship and us being disciples of Jesus because of the love we have for one another in good and tough times (John 13:35).