Friends will change you. I spent this past weekend up in New York celebrating a good friend’s birthday. It’s hard not to walk away from a weekend spent almost entirely with two other people feeling a little closer. Inevitably, this weekend like every other had to leave and I faced an arduous four-and-a-half hour drive to make it back in time for church, more importantly a membership class that I can’t miss again. During the drive I was reminded of my conversation a month ago with Erik, the recent birthday boy. The words, “What if you don’t find it?” still ringing in my head, especially in the context of the past forty-eight hours. And I realized I’ll never find another Erik or Jon and I no longer want to.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” — II Peter 1:3–4
Batteries not included. You’re not seeing that phrase in this passage, because God doesn’t give things like that to us. When it says He’s given us everything that pertain to life and godliness, it means everything. Don’t you think that one of the paramount gifts is friends? With as many exhortations to be and stay in community, it’s far from believable that God would leave us high and dry on the issue of friends. Before we were born, God provided us with all the friends and all the right friends we would ever need. While I’m not advocating going into our shells and neglecting to meet another person for the rest of our lives, our focus in regards to our best friends will probably be different. I believe that most likely these people are already in our lives and our pursuit isn’t necessarily for more friends, but deeper friendships. Deeper friendships. In other words, it’s a question of stewardship. Are we fully using our friendships for God’s glory or are we just squandering them? There’s no third option.
How do you view God? It’s the question at the heart of the matter. If we truly viewed God as the good and perfect provider, then passages like the one above would merely be a good reminder of the life we’re already living. We’d know that the friendships we have are sufficient and looking to deepen them constantly. If we viewed God as His name explicitly defines, the most important being in the universe, then we’d never think twice and we’d already be using every interaction with our friends to His glory. I don’t know you (most likely), but you don’t. Neither of those views do you hold. Look down into your heart and you’ll have to agree on some level if not completely. I’ll admit I don’t, but I’m certainly aware now.
Where is your doctrine? Yes, I’m asking about your theology here. The place to start rectifying this problem is with what you believe about God. If you spend time understanding God for who He is as Provider and the Alpha and Omega, then there is little stopping you, but they key to stewardship and right relationships is just this understanding. The key, in other words, is our motivation. Then, it is a matter of sticking with our friends and putting in the hard work that brings joy greater than all the heartbreak in the world. That’s right. This is the way God designed relationships so that we could learn through pain and be drawn back in by the overwhelming joy when we get things right. This is what keeps us coming back for more.
Friendships are that important. Without them, we are living half a life. Without relationships, deep relationships, we can live a surface level existence merely floating along. We have to dive deeper into our faith in God. We have to allow for Him to be who He is and says He is. Then, also, can we dive deeper into our friendships and enjoy them fully for the gift they are. Dare I say there is nothing so great on this earth as those? Friends will change you.