Six Barriers to Friendship
Friends are sometimes an afterthought in our society.
When the second episode of the third season starts on Netflix as you’re relaxing after a long day, we barely have time to think of friends.
Christians are called to be friends; if not careful we can run the risk of settling for just being friendly.
We are very faithful at being courteous and encouraging to one another once a week, but deep down most of us long for more. We all want good friendship.
So, what stops us from making friends?
One of the greatest problems preventing good friendship is the sin of selfishness. Aside from God’s work in our heart we have the tendency to wake up each day drawn to ourselves. We naturally want to benefit ourselves, satisfy ourselves, and think about ourselves. Part of laying down our lives for our friends, John 15:13, is to repent of this, to lay ourselves aside, and to focus on others. When we find our mind and heart are only concerned with one person (and that person is not Christ), it is a sign that we need to get on our knees and ask God for the Spirit’s power to love others.
One excuse for not making friends is this: “I’m just too busy.” While there may be some outstanding cases of people who have little to no free time, most of us are only neglecting to utilize time in order to be with friends. When we say that we are too busy, we could mean we would rather be doing something else. At times we would rather sit on the couch, eat a snack, play with a smart phone, or just lay down and not think (and these are important at times). We realize we are not too busy when God adds something that forces us to do more with our time. And we always have enough. Friendship just needs higher priority in our daily routine. True friendship requires sacrifice, and maybe that sacrifice is the schedule we create for ourselves.
Many of us are afraid of friendship and specifically the feeling of rejection. We don’t want them to know that we need a friend. What if they say they don’t want to be friends? Or what if they secretly roll their eyes when we send them a text? 1 John 14:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” If we are afraid of rejection, it is a sign that we are thinking too much about ourselves, that we are not loving the other person. If we befriend someone out of love instead of trying to satisfy ourselves alone, fear disappears. We will realize that they are probably as afraid as we are, and they need friendship just as much as we do.
Jesus said to his disciples in John 15:15, “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made know to you.” Jesus didn’t keep the important things in his life from his friends. Sometimes we keep the most important events, feelings, and thoughts to ourselves. Friendship is made stronger when your deepest thoughts, feelings, sins, and joys are in the open. Friends are there to share in the good and bad of your life, but we have to let them in.
Sometimes we just don’t pray for friends. We don’t pray for God to build our friendships, and we forget to pray for those people who are our friends. Prayer involves God in our friendships. It is a sign that we are not completely selfish, that we truly love our friends. It also focuses our mind on them, and gives us more interest in their lives.
One of the problems that our technology has created is separation from the people who are near us. We can easily keep in touch with people who are far away, but texting, calling, Facebook, and Snapchat are not sufficient for friendship. We need regular time in person, not just FaceTime. God has placed us here, with certain people around us, for a reason. We should be spending time with the people here, in our neighborhood, in our church, in our community.
We need friends. Just as David needed Jonathan and Samuel, we need friends around us. Don’t just depend on a weekly meeting with a community group or discipleship group (although this is a healthy and helpful start!). Seek people outside of regular meetings. Invite them into your life. If we depend on God’s grace to love people, we will start to see these barriers to friendship breaking down quickly.