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Friendship

This is the fourth in a series actually on important life tasks that everyone needs to accomplish to be strong and healthy – spiritually, physically and emotionally.

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Today we’re going to work on a presentation for LifeResource Ministries. This is the fourth in a series actually on important life tasks that everyone needs to accomplish to be strong and healthy – spiritually, physically and emotionally. There are five areas of life that social science has identified as important to a sense of well-being. Now, when I tell you what they are, you going to say, “Well, duh!” And that’s what these scientists always find out. It’s what we already knew. But it’s good when they reinforce what we already knew, I think.

So, the first task we’ve already covered in this series is spirituality. People have to be spiritual beings to be happy, healthy people, because we’re designed for that. And that’s what the brain mappers are finding out – that people are designed to be spiritual beings. We knew that, didn’t we?

Today we’re going to work on a presentation for LifeResource Ministries. This is the fourth in a series actually on important life tasks that everyone needs to accomplish to be strong and healthy – spiritually, physically and emotionally. There are five areas of life that social science has identified as important to a sense of well-being. Now, when I tell you what they are, you going to say, “Well, duh!” And that’s what these scientists always find out. It’s what we already knew. But it’s good when they reinforce what we already knew, I think.

So, the first task we’ve already covered in this series is spirituality. People have to be spiritual beings to be happy, healthy people, because we’re designed for that. And that’s what the brain mappers are finding out – that people are designed to be spiritual beings. We knew that, didn’t we?

The second one that we talked about was self-direction. We all have to make our own choices in life. God gave us that responsibility, didn’t He? Those of us who are successful in doing that live happy lives. And those of us who don’t, well, we struggle.

The third one was work and leisure. You show me somebody that’s not able to do something productive for society, and I’ll show you somebody that’s really unhappy – really troubled.

And the fourth one, which is what we’re going to cover today is friendship. I did this before, but I did such a bad job of it, I told my wife, “We’re going to have to do this again.” I didn’t know why I did a bad job of it until I came here today and realized that this a completely apropos topic for me to talk about here, because Camp Outreach has a very strong friendship component. It’s not just about helping others, although it is primarily about that. It’s also about making friends, and connections, and networking and things like that. For me, it’s apropos because in most other times during the year, I’m surrounded by friends. I’m either related to or friends with everybody that’s here. I made one new friend – one person out of seventeen that I had never met. Everybody else is connected.

Speaking of friends, I was talking to one recently, who said he was invited to a luncheon of independent Church of God ministers, and he said that since they didn’t all know each other, they went around the room and gave a short bio about themselves so that everyone could learn about each of them. My friend said that he told the group that he was in the process of repenting of being a doctrinal giant and a Christian-values lightweight. That’s what Tom was talking about today. Now, he knows doctrine is important – and he’s focused on that plenty – but he didn’t get the people piece. He didn’t understand the Christian values part of it.

I think many of us don’t consider friendship as something that’s really that important as a part of Christianity – something that’s important to God. And yet, a search on the word friend in the Bible yielded fifty-seven hits. And I didn’t do friends because I didn’t think I had time to count them all. I think there would probably be more of that one. But that makes the point that the Bible is filled with examples about friendship and discussion about what it is and how to conduct it. Yet many people in our culture over the years have destroyed friendships over the most trivial doctrinal issues. I hit this one last time when I was here. I don’t know if our group knew that I spoke here last week, too. You know, he’s baaack…. But that aside…we have destroyed relationships over issues that are going to be resolved in seconds when Jesus Christ returns.

Friendship is the core relationship of the Kingdom of God. So I thought I would help turn our attention to this spiritually important relationship and try to understand it a bit better. And I want to ground it with a few scriptures before we begin. Let’s go to James 2, verse 23.

Jm. 2:23 – It says, “The scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the Friend of God.” So, we’re told the relationship that he had with God was a friendship. And on the basis of that friendship, God plans to save all people from their sins. Pretty amazing when you stop and think about what that means.

Jn. 15:12 – Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” So a Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ is to be a friendship. Have you ever thought about that? That is what He said, isn’t it?

Then in 3 John, the first chapter, and verse 13…I really thought this was interesting.

3 Jn. 1:13 – “I had many things to write,” John said, “but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink. But I hope to see you shortly and we shall speak face-to-face.” Do you ever talk to a friend on the phone and just wish you could be there? You know, the phone’s good, but it’s not as good as being there, right? That’s what John is saying. He says, “Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.” What does that mean? Well, I think what that means is, that friends is kind of another name for church member – Christians back then. They called each other friends. So that shows us the type

of closeness that God hopes for us in the church – that we’re to be connected as friends. And that is challenging sometimes, because we come from so many different backgrounds, and ways of being in the world, and different places.

Mk. 12:25 – Jesus said, “For when they rise from the dead, they will neither marry or are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven.” He’s talking to some people about the resurrection – to the Sadduccees. People aren’t going to be married in the Kingdom, so there won’t be any marital relationships – no sexual relationships. So what kind of relationships are left? Well, there’s fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, right? But you know, in the psychological literature, when they talk about sibling love, they lump it in with friendship love, because it’s essentially the same. It’s non-sexual. And it’s relational. Sibling relationships are equated with peer relationships in the Bible, too, aren’t they? Because we’re brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet, we’re friends, we’re told – all friends in the Kingdom of God. This fact, I think, is marked by some of the things that we see in this life.

I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the benefits – or the modern findings – about friendship. We’ll learn what science has learned about it. Friendship is common to all cultures. Every culture is filled with it. It’s human. It’s not cultural. Now maybe the way people make friends in different cultures is different. But it’s something common. It’s just something people do. And we know God does it, too, don’t we? He was friends with Abraham. We’re made in God’s image. So, we’re going to be like that. That points to the idea that friendship is going to be a part of our life for all eternity. So what does that say about what we’re supposed to be doing with it now? We’re actually hardwired to be friends with other people. The brain mappers are learning that the human brain is wired for relationships. We need relationships. We need families. We need friendships.

I was watching the history channel – I guess right after we got here one evening. They read some of John Adams’ wife’s letters that she wrote to him while they were in the process of forming this country. And she addressed him as Friend in her letter. They were a lot more formal in their writing back then. But she called him a friend. What a great basis for a marriage – a friendship. Mrs. J and I still have a running debate about the nature of our relationship, going back to 1968 when we were buddies in college for nine months. I bet her a beer that I could get a better grade on a test than she got. And I bet her a beer because we were so poor we didn’t have enough money to rub two nickels together. There was a place right near the campus that had really cheap beer. So, I figured that I would win anyway, but I didn’t want to…. She won. So, we went over there and she drank this beer – her prize. And she’s never drunk another beer since. And I wanted a beer-drinking woman. I mean, I knew her really well, but there’s always more to learn, isn’t there, about our mates?

Let’s talk about some of the benefits of friendship. Fun. Most friends are fun aren’t they? It’s fun to have friends. I remember one of my best friendship memories from back a few years ago when I pastored a church in the bay area of California. I’d moved away, and I came back to go on a backpacking trip with some of the teenagers there. It was in the winter time, which is okay weather, right, in California. You can’t go in the summer because it’s too hot. And the winter’s okay. So we went into the Ventana Wilderness. It was kind of damp. It was over a Christmas break. I remember one evening I was sitting on this big log – right in the middle of it – right in front of the fire, keeping warm. And Donna comes up and sits down beside me. Now, Donna’s a girl that has some family problems, and we spent a lot of time talking together. She sits down beside me, and says, “I’m cold, Mr. Jacobs!” We’re both bundled up like a Michelin man, you know. We’ve got down jackets on and everything. I said, “Oh, okay.” So she sits down beside me. Then Tracy comes up and sits on the other side of me, and says, “I’m cold, too, Mr. Jacobs.” And she sits down by me – pretty close. And then Paul comes up, and he sits on Tracy’s lap. He’s Tracy’s brother. And he’s a great big, gangly kid. I used to go watch him throw baseballs. He’d strike out fifteen guys in a row – stuff like that. But he sits on his sister’s legs, and he says, “I’m kind of cold, too.” Then he swings his legs around over me, and puts them over Donna. So, you get the picture. Now I’m packed in on two sides with big, heavy legs over me, and they know that I’m deathly ticklish. So, the only thing that saved me was my Michelin-man padding. They couldn’t get through it to really tickle me good. I had to knock them all off the log and scramble for my life! You know they had to plan that, right? The way they did it. It was all well-thought out, orchestrated. That’s because they liked me. They loved me. They were my friends. So they were giving me a hard time. I think about that every now and then – fun thing.

Did you know that, because we’re wired to be friends, if we have lots of friends, things go better for our bodies? It’s true. When you smile at somebody, when you extend your hand to them and shake it, when you speak to them, when you give them a hug, when you pass on a word of encouragement – whatever it might be – anytime we extend ourself – our brain produces a tiny bit of growth hormone that’s released into our bloodstream – makes us feel good. Our blood pressure drops a little bit. Our heart rate slows just a little bit. So, all sorts of good things start to happen in our body when we’re friendly to people. Really interesting benefits.

Another benefit of friendship is that we have to learn to cooperate with other people. Is that a Kingdom skill? Yeah! We’re going to have to cooperate with people all the rest of our lives – for all eternity, aren’t we? So working together – like we’ve done this week – in our camp – sharing things, making something good happen for everybody – those are things that we learn in friendship. Those are really beneficial for us to have that kind of relationship with other people.

Another thing that they talk about in the literature about friendship is what they call altruisim. We call it agape – Godly love, or mature love. When we look on the things of others, as well as the things of ourselves, then we’re practicing agape love. And the thing about friendship is, you usually won’t have too many if you don’t develop some ability to do that. Because friendship is a two-way thing. You have to give as well as receive in a friendship, or it won’t last. It’s really interesting that God has given us this core relationship to teach us His own characteristics. He is the originator of agape.

You know, if you think about all the problems that we’ve had in the church over the years maintaining unity and integrity, we can see that cooperation and altruism would have

gone a long way to solve a lot of those problems. So these are all qualities that can be learned in friendship.

I learned something in the last few years, too, about friendship that I didn’t realize. When I was doing my master’s degree, there was this professor that taught several of the classes I had. She was the best one of the lot. She practiced what she preached. She talked about empathy a lot in counseling, and she was very empathic. I was so honored when she asked me if I wanted to go into partnership with her in her office in private practice some time later. She also worked in the public school system where I was trying to get a job at the time. I called her up to ask her how I might go about getting a job. I already had written a letter to every principal in the system. I think there were eighty-eight elementary schools in our town – that are all in the same system. So, I wrote a letter to every principal. Nothing happened. So I called her up, and I told her that there were two schools that I knew of that still didn’t have any counselors. She called her principal, and her principal called the principal of one of the schools, and he called me to come in for a job interview. What he said was, “I’ve been told that if I don’t hire you, I’m really missing out on something good, and that I’d be an idiot to let you get by me.” I never met that principal that told him that – never met her. So she had to get that from my friend, right? Hyperbole aside, networking is such an important thing these days to get work and accomplish a lot. You know, most of the people that are here for the camp are here because of our networking, aren’t we? That’s how it works. I think all the good jobs I’ve ever had had to come because of my relationships with other people – friendships. So important to start building a big network of friendship.

I’m so glad to see people from all over the United States working on that. We’ve got Florida here. We’ve got Texas. We’ve got Nevada. We’ve got Cincinnati, Ohio. Where else do we have? We’ve got Seattle, Washington. We’ve got Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’ve got Kansas City. Colorado – Pagosa Springs, Colorado! So all these people are gathered together, and they now know people from all over the place. It’s great.

Another really huge benefit for friendship is social support. The Bible says it’s better if there are two, and even better if there are three, right? I remember something that happened a number of years ago when I was backpacking with some friends of mine. We were going on an eleven day backpacking trip. We were doing part of the John Muir Trail in California. And after day eight…. It was a man, a woman – husband and wife – and their two kids – a sixteen-year-old girl and a fourteen-year-old boy. Of course the kids and I were always way out in front of Mom and Dad on the trip. Mom and Dad got to the top of Mather Pass, and she slipped off of a rock that was part of the trail, and landed wrong, and broke her foot. There was a man there who saw it, and he said, “What can I do to help?” They said, “Well, you can go ahead and catch our kids and the man that’s with them.” Well he did – at six-thirty that evening – seven miles from where the accident happened. They didn’t have all the gear they needed. They had tents but no poles, and food but no stove. You know how that works. So they were in a pretty bad way. We went back and got together. She had covered five miles that day on a broken foot, carrying a full pack. She was only two miles away from us when we finally found them. But we sat there for two days, waiting for the ranger. We were right near a wilderness ranger station, which was a tent with a tarp and a radio. And she was out on her horse with a radio and they never could find her, so we sat there for two days waiting. And everybody that went by said, “We’ll go to the next station and let the rangers know.” So, we’re toward the end of our trip, and we’re eating up our food, and wondering what’s going to happen. Finally, Bill and I – the other Bill – decided it was time to take our lives in our own hands, and make something good happen. So, the kids and I walked out. We covered thirty miles in a day and four hours to get to a radio and a ranger station. It took them twenty minutes to helicopter her out of there. We got to listen on the radio while the ranger assessed the situation, and called in the chopper. But you know, those children couldn’t have walked out by themselves. You’d think four people – father, mother and two kids – that everything would be great, you know. But they just needed one more person. And you know, we have been friends ever since. We all need help. We can’t do it by ourselves in life – especially as Christians. It’s just too hard. So we need friends.

What else have they learned about friendship? They have learned that in Western culture, people have fewer friends than ever before. People are losing the ability to make friends and keep them. That’s one reason people have fewer friends. Then, there’s some other reasons. People in our society are being overtaken by materialistic concerns. They care more about things and stuff than they do about relationships anymore. There are many more distractions than there used to be. You know, when I was a kid, there was one kind of tennis shoe you could buy – Converse All-Stars. That was it! Now people have to have a college education to figure out the best one to get. So many distractions! There are so many different kinds of media, and games to play, and sports. Distractions proliferate in Western culture.

And then another thing that’s happening in our culture has to do with the way babies attach to their parents early in life. There is a certain kind of insecure attachment that takes place, where the child doesn’t get what it needs emotionally. It’s not talking about food, and being changed, and all that. It’s talking about the emotional support from the parents. Children learn early on that they’re not going to get the emotional support they need, so they have to learn to fend for themselves. What that causes them to become as adults is dismissing of relationships. They don’t care about relationships like people used to, when mothers knew more about how to nurture, and fathers knew about how to nurture their children. So we are becoming a dismissing society in Western culture – a very, very sad thing – something for all of us to be concerned about. It’s so important, I think, that at LifeResource Ministries, we’ve created a seminar for parents and children so they can learn more about how to connect in a healthy way to one another.

They also talk in the literature about what is a healthy relationship – a healthy friendship. Sometimes friendships can be unhealthy, or harmful to us. And social scientists have studied a lot about this aspect of friendship. They tell us that in a healthy friendship both parties have to be willing to dedicate themselves to the growth, the health and the well- being of the other person. In other words, being a control freak is not conducive to good friendship. You have to let people be themselves and do the things that are going to help them grow and develop. You know that jealous boyfriend that will never let his girlfriend get out of sight, and won’t let her talk to anybody else? Or that controlling husband that

abuses his wife and won’t let her go anywhere without his permission – always keeping tabs on her? That’s toxic relationship. It’s not about growing, and developing, and hoping the best for her. It’s about keeping her under the thumb. Now, women do that, too, but…. That controlling friend who’s always jealous of our time, or that friend who’s going to drag us into harmful activities, or that friend who wants us to stay on the wrong track with them. Or sometimes the people that we care about go a different way than we go in life.

I was talking to a young man recently who went in a really bad direction early in his life. He had a lot of friends that were going the same way. They were all drug dealers together. I asked this man how it was that he came to come around and change his ways. He said that one day he was beating a man up in his own home in front of his kid, and he realized how low he had sunk. And he repented, and changed his life. He gave his life to Jesus Christ. He had to change his friends, too, because they still wanted to go the same direction that he used to go. And he realized that he was too weak to resist. He had to give them up. Of course, when he did that, they tried to kill him. So he found out that they weren’t really his friends after all.

Can we have friends outside of Jesus Christ? I think, yes, we can. But usually we have to make new ones who know the new us. In that transitional period, it’s sometimes hard for people to accept the change that we make. I have a lot of friends now who are not in our church, but none of them are the same friends I knew when I was in school. I was quite different then. And I had to let go of them, because they were walking a different way than I. They didn’t want me to change. So, it’s not about my growth, is it, when they don’t want you to change. …not interested in my growth and well-being or the most important thing in my life, which was God.

Okay, that’s what they’ve learned. Let’s talk about being a friend now. Let’s talk a little bit about being a friend. How does one accomplish friendship? Proverbs 18:24 is probably the fundamental scripture about this.

Prov. 18:24 – It says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” So the Biblical approach is about being a friend, rather than trying to acquire friends. It’s to go out everyday intent on giving something of one’s self to others, and then God is going to take care of the rest for us. We take care of others. He’ll take care of us.

Each day God sends a number of people past us – our mate, our siblings, the people at work, at school. How are we going to treat them? Are we going to give them something? Or are we going to ignore them? Or are we going to try to take something from them?

So let’s think about some things we can do to be a good friend. I think that one thing is that people have to seek friendship. And I don’t mean trying to acquire friends, but I mean to seek to become a friend – seek people out to be friends with. I know a number of people who don’t have as many friends as they would like. And I notice all of them are not trying very hard to do something about it. If we know that friendship is good for us, then we can seek to befriend people.

We have a young intern in our office at the mental health clinic where I work who is probably in her late twenties. She has a child. She’s pregnant with another one. Her husband is a principal in an elementary school. One day, all three counselors there – the two interns and myself – got stood up by our clients, so we walked across the street to Starbucks and had coffee. They were telling me, in excited tones, all about this class they’re taking on attachment. I started telling them about the attachment seminar that I’m doing around the country. On the way back, one of the interns – the one I’m telling you about – Christy – said, “Uh, Bill, can I ask you a question?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “Can I talk to you sometime about my connection with God?” I said, “Yeah.” We had that discussion, and then a few weeks later she asked if my wife and I would like to get together for dinner with her husband and her. There’s an invitation to be friends. So we did that. Elaine really liked her and she liked Elaine, and her husband and I really hit it off. So, there you go. It’s all growing. That probably never would have happened if she hadn’t made the effort.

Another thing to think about is the field for friendship is quite often most fertile in the area of common interests. A lot of the people that I know that don’t have a lot of friends don’t have any interests. Because they don’t have anything to be interested with people about. Now we talked about marriage and friendship. Years ago there was a man in my church who was a deacon and his wife died. After a number of years of being alone, he decided he wanted to remarry. This man was one of the most serving people I have ever met in my life. So what he did to find a wife was to get on the Internet…. No, I’m sorry. He didn’t do that. He went to all the neighboring churches when they had socials, and walked in the kitchen to see who was doing the work. Manny and Sue are happily married to this day – twenty years later. They had serving in common, right?

Let’s talk about traits that make for being a good friend. Truthfulness. That’s the foundation of trust, right? And that’s what friends have to have. I was telling you about the sixteen-year-old I went hiking with – her family and all. Sometime after that, she walked up to me at a church dance, and she said, “How do you like my dress?” I said, “Lovely as always.” She gives me the “Yeah, right” look, and she says, “Is it long enough?” She wanted to know what I thought about her dress – was it appropriate or not? And she trusted that I would tell her the truth and still love her even if she didn’t get the answer she wanted. Of course, I think she was probably ninety-five percent sure it was long enough, but she wanted me to notice it at any rate. That relationship – that willingness to ask that question – comes from the fact that we had a trusting relationship with each other.

Now, openness is a part of truthfulness. Unless we and our friends are willing to be open, then we’re never really going to know each other. We have to be open. We have to be real with each other, because, if we always have the guard up, or if we’ve always got the mask on, if the facade is always in place, if the wall’s always there, they can’t really love us because they don’t know who we are. We have to be willing to risk and be vulnerable to have friends.

Empathy. Empathy is also helpful in building friendships. Let’s go to Job 2, verse 11.

Job 2:11 – Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him. He’d lost his family. He lost his livelihood. Sick. Terrible, terrible straits. Each one of them came from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite; for they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

V-12 – When they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices, and wept. And each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. And no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. That’s empathy. When you understand the experience of other people, and you’re willing to be present with them in it, then you have empathy.

God gives us all problems that we have to solve by ourselves, and there isn’t anything our parents, our friends, our children, other people can do for us. There’s something about that. We’re all individually accountable to God for some things, aren’t we? And we have to make the choices. And there isn’t anything we can do for other people about those things either, except to be present with them when they’re in a hard place. Sometimes we want to solve our friends problems, but there isn’t anything we can really do to fix them. And if their problems are potentially destructive to us – like with my drug-dealing friend – then we need to get away. But if they’re not, then we need to hang in there with them, and be present, and offer support. You know, later in the book, Job calls his three friends miserable comforters. He got pretty grouchy with those boils he had. And God got pretty upset with them, too, because of the stuff they said. I guess, after they were compassionate – empathic – they tried to fix things, didn’t they? If they had just kept their mouths shut, they’d have been fine. And Job didn’t listen to anything they said anyway, so they’d have been better off doing that. But I do know that after Job came out of his trial, he prayed for them, and showed that he also knew how to be a friend. So, empathy. Very important.

Care. Care is another one. I was talking to a younger friend some time ago who was very sensitive to the troubles and feelings of other people. She told me she spent her energy taking care of people, and was always exhaused, and run down, and overloaded. Then one day she realized she needed someone to take care of her. I started thinking about that. The way most people deal with that shut down, overloaded, too much thing is, they withdraw. They go behind the facade or the wall. She didn’t want to do that. She didn’t want to put up a facade. She didn’t want to withdraw into a protected shell. She said that if she did that nobody would really know her, and she would be isolated, and she wouldn’t be able to help anybody then. She said that the pain she would avoid by building a wall would be replaced by the pain of separation. Isn’t that a great quote? That’s so true – the way that happens. So it wasn’t selfishness that she was talking about

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when she said she needed someone to take care of her. But it was about the mutual thing that happens between us and God when we take care of people, and then God takes care of us. I see some very high-level spiritual thinking going on in that younger mind. I know a lot of older people that haven’t figured that out.

Mutuality. Another thing to think about in friendship. It’s got to go both ways in order for it to be a friendship. You know, if it’s just one way, then it’s parenting, or it’s psychotherapy, or nursing, or doctoring, or something like that. But it has to be equal back and forth. I got a phone message when I woke up this morning. Actually, the phone rang in what seemed to be the middle of the night, but it was a young girl who called to wish me a good Sabbath. Her parents were members of a congregation I pastored fifteen years ago. I think she was four when we moved away. Lately she’s been spiritually isolated and her dad told her to check out our Website, so she did. She emailed us, and I called her back. She’s had some really serious trouble in her life, and is really hurting. So I want to take care of her. We’ve been carrying on sort of a low-grade email/telephone- type relationship, trying to help her out. One of the things that really impresses me about her is her instinct for mutuality. She always comes halfway to me – you know, equal back and forth – even though she’s had a really hard way to go. I notice that she’s very popular. And that’s why.

Boundaries. Very important. When this young intern asked me if she could talk to me about her connection with God…before she asked that, she said, “Now Bill, if this is out of line, you tell me.” And then she asked the question. So she’s probing for the boundary. We have this professional relationship, so this is starting to become a little bit more personal now. So, “is this okay with you?” So she just asked me if it was okay. I thought that was really interesting. And we’re kind of doing that boundary dance right now. We’re learning where…because it is a little tricky to have a professional and a personal relationship with people.

Now, I have a bunch of 4×4 buddies that I go four-wheeling with, but I never go to their family functions. I never send them a birthday card. And they never come to mine, or send me one either. Because the boundary around that friendship is 4×4. That’s how big it is, right? That’s one of the really cool things about friendship. It’s so flexible. There’s so many different ways for people to be friends. There are as many ways as there are people. In fact, there are way more than that, because we all have more than one friend. Totally flexible. The trick is learning how to work each one of them. That’s the tricky part. And as we learn how to work them, we’re learning all kinds of healthy things in our lives – things that God wants us to learn.

So, I’m going to ask you a question. It’s not, “How many friends do you have?” It’s, “How good a friend are you?” We can all learn more about this amazing phenomenon called friendship. When people, both in and out of the church, are successful at friendship, it is a blessing for them, because God it for us. It is one of the five major life tasks that we must accomplish to be successful, happy, healthy, spiritually-minded people. And friendship in this life is practice for the kind of perfect and eternal friendship that will characterize our happier life in the Kingdom of God.