Many pastors were taught that they shouldn’t have friends in the congregations they served. For most, that isn’t a problem.
I think legalism seriously damages the whole concept of friendship.
Friends are people who know you and love you in spite of yourself. Friends aren’t perfect and we don’t expect them to be. Friends can tell you what you need to hear but can also keep their opinions to themselves. After all, friends don’t think they are responsible for your actions or for fixing you. They might tell you that you are an idiot, but they do it to your face, rather than behind your back.
I have had many legalists tell me that they were my friends. They stood with me when it made them look good or feel good. They were kind and supportive when they wanted to manipulate me. As long as I agreed with their ideas and values, I was someone special. In fact, I was someone to look up to as long as I agreed with their favorite teacher.
But when I disagreed. . .
One of the things that was simply shocking was the loss of “friends.” People who brought meals, sent words of affirmation, worked with us on projects—people we thought we could trust—suddenly were bitter enemies, doing and saying things that were vicious and very painful. Lies, cruelty, shunning—all became part of what we received from them. Wow!
This week I want to write a little about friends. I think most of the people who have come out of legalism have found much of the same thing I have.
And, I have to say, those who are our closest friends today, particularly the very few who have been with us since that time, are those who were never really a part of the legalism in the first place.
So, share your thoughts and we will have a great conversation this week.