Monday, January 29, 2007
Wounded a Friend Lately? Maybe They Needed It!
Core Thought: Are you a real friend to someone?
This is one of my all-time favorite photographs, taken a long time ago (Summer of '75). Yep, that's me in front with the hair, not so much fat, and shorts that wouldn't even be "regulation" on the World Changers' mission trips our youth go on (Too short....and pretty tacky, too!).
Anyway, this picture was taken during our youth choir tour (Yes, I sang in those days!). It reminds me of how incredibly blessed I was then with great friends, and how God has continued to sustain me since then with friends...real ones.
What is a real friend? Why would I entitle this post with the word "wounded," like that is something you should consider in your friendship. Sometimes it is "wise" to wound a friend, as Proverbs 27:6 remind us: Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
A true friend has your best interests at heart, and if he or she really, really loves you and wants the best for you, they will risk "hurting your feelings," so that you won't get hurt yourself in the future. If you truly are on a path to destruction, or, let's say, not taking a very healthy path, wouldn't you want someone you trust to say something? A true friend will say something, and it won't just be a criticism and leave you with it. A true friend says, "Hey, I'm really concerned about your path. Tell me what's happening. I'm here to help, and I plan on staying 'here'."
Christians are supposed to support and encourage each other....not by ignoring problems, but by being honest in love. No, you can't fix people; that is their responsibility, but you can give them someone in their life who is not play acting, who is not content to talk only about the weather and other surface stuff.
Do you know why professional counselors still have jobs? It's because we need someone in our lives who cares more about our mental health over the long term, instead of our feelings in the short term. God calls us to truly love and care for each other. He never said, "Make sure you never hurt anyone's feelings." Sometimes not hurting someone's feelings is selfish. We don't want to experience the awkwardness of hurt feelings, or a confrontation, or the possible loss of a friend.
Our concern for the comfort of our relationship can overshadow our duty to love our friend for THEIR best interest. What if what they are doing is harming them and/or others? What if it is something that is correctable? Sure, sometimes we need to be silent, but then again, sometimes we need to speak up....like God speaks up!
We as believers are called to reflect God's character to the world (and to our friends), so look at His character. Does He ever dance around issues? Throughout Scripture He confronts His people, sometimes with very painful, and ugly realities, but He does not leave them wounded. He is a compassionate God, and the word "compassion," simply means "willing to suffer along with someone."
And that is what He does...he confronts us when we need it, and in the same breath He reminds us, "I'm going to be here for you. I'm going to show you how to grow in your struggles, and, yes, even in your failures." Jesus is the ultimate example of how far God is willing to "suffer with" us, and for us. We can always count on Him to tell us the truth. We can always count on Him to love us. Yes, we who believe in Christ can declare, "What a friend we have in Jesus!"...but the question is, "What kind of friends do your friends have in you?"