It’s pretty clear that as Christians, we are meant to have friends, starting with Jesus.
12″This is (O)My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
13″(P)Greater love has no one than this, that one (Q)lay down his life for his friends.
14″You are My (R)friends if (S)you do what I command you.
15″No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for (T)all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:12-17 NASB
Of course the call of friendship is not a light one, as shown here.
In our church circles, how are friendships with one another to be understood?
Does the following scripture have anything to do with our friendships?
31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will (A)gain new strength;
They will (B)mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
We were taught, based on this verse, that it was a good thing to be like eagles. This led to a contrast with turkeys. Does anyone else here remember this teaching?
When I was at C3OF long ago, I remember being taught that we should ‘fly with the eagles’ and not ‘run with the turkeys’. Aspire to associate with those you see who are successful, rather than getting bogged down hanging around with those who will never go anywhere. Of course, if you had real vision or were following perhaps the churches real vision, then you would fly with the eagles. Look up, not down.
When you were sharing with others, the idea was that leaders shared up, not down. So a leader would presumably share any issues with someone above them in the leadership hierarchy, but not with people they were leading, who were ‘down’. Yet your home group was a close part of your church family, and a place where relationships – friendships – had the chance to develop. Should those leaders and members be able to be friends with one another, for real? Was this hierarchical view helpful in building a relational, loving community?
Most of my real friendships were with people who shared with me, and I shared with them. Whether they were ‘eagles’ or ‘turkeys’ was not a factor in my mind. Likewise, whether they were a leader or not. Whether we related or not was what mattered. If I had a friend going through a hard time, would I walk away because they were a ‘turkey’? Would I try to be friends only with people who were ‘soaring like eagles’?
That way of thinking seemed wrong to me. At the time I just put it to one side. Now, I wonder how its outworking has affected the culture in some areas. I wonder how widespread the teaching is. It’s not present in every church; I didn’t hear it in the next church I moved on to.
When this view is taught, what happens to those at the top of the heap, who can only ‘share up’, but have no-one left in their church to share up to? Perhaps they share with someone outside of their own church. But then they become seggregated from their own congregation, and perhaps miss the provision of many friendships there that could be very supportive and enjoyable, all because of applying this mentality.
What happens to those at the bottom of the heap, who are designated ‘turkeys’ and whom no one with an eye for advancement in the organisation would actually want to become real friends with?
Is the measure of a friend _only_ that they would lay down their lives for another, or, is it an ongoing attitude of love that does not discriminate on these kinds of measures? Does a hierarchical approach to friendships preclude the real thing for people in certain positions in a church culture? When people move on from a home group, or a church, and no longer have a structured relationship, can the friendship endure? If it cannot, was the relationship ever really what we are hoping for in our Christian family – which is what most of us see our churches as?