Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Command to Love

At the Bible Study yesterday morning the subject was friendships. Nothing stirs up emotions for me faster or more profoundly then this topic. Good friends are such a gift!

I’ve written before about the friends I’ve lost, not to death, but to brokenness. Joni (the Bible study teacher) shared about a silly feud she once found herself embroiled in. She didn’t even know what she’d done, or how it started, but she knew her friend was mad at her. So, she confronted her.

As it turns out, the other woman was angry with Joni for moving a plant on the church platform. Ridiculous, right?

Women can be ridiculous. We can be jealous, petty, catty, gossipy, and just plain mean. I’ve penned many a post on this very topic

So, what IS a friend? According to the Miriam/Webster Dictionary a friend is, “One attached to another by affection or esteem; a favored companion.” The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV).

In politics, a “friend” is someone who shares your philosophy, or supports your agenda. For me, a friend is someone who cares about you even when they don’t agree. A friend has your back, walks and cries with you through the tough stuff, makes you laugh even when life throws you a curve, and holds you accountable when you’re being a ditz.

One of the women I loved dumped me because, among other things, I walked away from her after seeing her in the hall at church. She says I made eye contact with her, then turned and walked the other direction. “I have no choice”, she said, “but to assume you’re jealous of me.” Well, I don’t even recall that incident, but my mind is often someplace else and that may have been the case that day. Who knows? I’m sure it had nothing to do with her!

That particular friend had her list of reasons that I was “too weak” to be her friend, but it all comes down to this—she no longer liked me. Period. Losing the relationship with that woman wasn’t exactly a big loss. Unfortunately, she took a few other people who I loved and trusted down with her. THAT is the source of my greatest sadness.

When I was growing up my mom always said that to have a friend, we needed to be a friend. I always thought I was a good friend. Caring for others is second nature to me—watching a friend’s children when she’s sick, preparing meals and helping with the laundry after a surgery, driving miles to hold a hand at a funeral, or defending someone I loved when they’ve been wronged. It never occurred to me to NOT do those things.

The saddest point about the lost friendships is that they were Christian friends. The verse just before the above stated scripture says, “My command is this, love one another as I have loved you.” It’s not a suggestion or a piece of arbitrary advice—it’s a command from the God we claim to love and serve. What gives us the right to be so petty, judgmental, critical, and mean?

To have a friend who has my back. Wow! I hope to one day have that kind of friend, and I long to be that kind of friend.

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