Restoring Friendship

It’s Monday Grace!

It sure is easy to lose friends these days. I have lost close friends because I supported one presidential candidate over the other. I’m not talking about Facebook friends, but real friends whom I have known for years. I suppose I should be used to it. After all, I have worked in the church for over 40 years.

We have found that church friends are almost the least faithful. Not only do they seem to end quickly and decisively, they end for strange reasons. It is rare for someone to leave a church, for example, and remain friends with people who stay in the church. They say they will remain friends after a move, but you never hear from them. You share your heart, trust them with your secrets, but suddenly they are distant.

If you have ever been through a church split, you have lost friends. If you have ever disagreed with leadership, you have probably lost friends. If you have ever suffered a personal failure, one that made you look spiritually inferior, you have probably lost church friends. If you have ever been attacked by someone in church, accused and lied about, you have probably lost friends.

Now, we have to understand that most friendships are based on shared space and experience. In other words, most of our friends are not people we sought out for a connection. When we were in school, they were in our class or rode on our bus. They might have been neighbors. Work friendships are based on the shared experiences at work. The same thing happens in church. That’s okay, we understand that.

It isn’t the fact that we meet friends in new places, or the fact that we often base friendships on shared life circumstances, or that we accept a more shallow type of friendship in situations that are temporary. All of these are normal in most of our lives. The thing that bothers us is the sudden and often brutal separation that happens in church relationships.

Why do they have to reject us with such passion? Why do they have to be so mean? Our friends became judgmental and superior. Even our kids suffered from cutting words and exclusion. Why? I am speaking in a general sense because I know many have experienced this, but I am also speaking very personally here. Our family has suffered from these fickle friendships too often. We know the pain.

The flesh is a part of all human relationships. The flesh is the life system we learned as we grew up in this world apart from Christ. Without the Spirit to guide us, the world and our experience taught us how to survive and prosper. Part of that meant to look out for ourselves first. Friends were useful in making our days pleasant or profitable but if that changed, we could drop those friends and find others. Like the other tools in life, friends were useful.

When we became believers, trusted Jesus as Savior, the Spirit came into our lives and offered a new way of thinking, a contrast to the flesh. Instead of seeking only our own good, we are being taught to think of others with love and compassion. But we still think in fleshly patterns as the Spirit does His work in us. We still might see others as threats or obstacles. We might hold even Christian relationships loosely.

I will not say that the friends who betrayed us are not believers. Some of them have caused me to ask that question, I admit. But their relationship with the Lord is not something for me to judge. All I know is that they hurt me.

Sadly, I also know that I have hurt others, people who considered me a friend. I did not fulfill their expectations of me. I made decisions that separated them from me. Some of them were hurt and blamed me. I can apologize, but I cannot change what happened. Nor will I be the one to offer them healing.

The flesh remains in all of us and, in each of us, it seeks its own good and protects itself. The flesh is the continuation of the evil ways of our past. It can be changed, but it will take more than a lifetime.

But let me share a word about the future. We are told that all of those who belong to Jesus will be in Heaven. Even those who were cruel and hurt us. It will not be their actions that determine whether they will be saved, but their relationship with Jesus. So, I know there will be people I have not enjoyed here who will be with me there forever. Just how will that work?

The good news is that the flesh will be entirely gone in that day. No more sin. No more crying. No more pain. Those things which led them to hurt me will be gone. Those things which led me to hurt others will be gone. We will be friends forever.

I believe that, even though I can hardly imagine it. I believe that all wounds, all divisions, all our personal wars will be healed. I believe that we will know and love each other in Heaven.

And I look forward to that day of restoration!

********

It’s ready!  Listed on Amazon!

Those who read here know that I believe the greatest expression of God’s grace is found in Jesus.  So, when Jesus taught the people, what do you suppose He wanted them to understand?  He wanted them to know the power and the desire of the love of God for them.  His message was not about what they should do for God, but what God had done and was willing to do for them.  His offer of salvation and Heaven could be summarized in two words: “Follow Me!”

The Sermon on the Mount is an amazing message of God’s practical grace for the lives of His people.  It presents an offer, a free gift, of everything God wants His people to have.  It all is found in Jesus.

This is a big book, over 450 pages, all for the purpose of showing that the Sermon on the Mount was a message of love.  Rather than a list of new rules given by Jesus, the Sermon reveals the heart of God. 

This is not a Bible commentary.  It is written in the same conversational style you know from this blog.  The theology may be deep, but the reading is straightforward and simple.  I believe you will enjoy this book!

Listen: get the ebook if you have a Kindle.  It’s only $10.  My guess is that this is the best $10 book you will get for your Kindle.  If you don’t have a Kindle, you should be able to read it on any computer or tablet or even phone with the Kindle app.  And, if it doesn’t work for you, just send it back!

The book is a chunk, but the print is clear and large enough to enjoy.  The cover photo is one I took from a boat on the Sea of Galilee to show the approximate place the Sermon was delivered. 

And let me know what you think!  Leave a review for others.  Reviews are important for Amazon sales.  Send me a note with your thoughts or questions.  You know how to reach me. 

While you are on Amazon, type in my name to see the other books I have listed.  You might be surprised!

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Restoring Friendship

  1. Wow. I have experienced everything you talked about in this post. I lost a close friend earlier this year because I disagreed with her belief that everyone who refuses to wear a face mask during this pandemic is a narcissist.

    I love the thought that we will be reunited with all of our Christian friends forever in heaven. No more flesh! No more divisions! Hallelujah!!

    I will be buying your new ebook after Christmas is over. We’ve lost some income this year due to covid and money is tight.

  2. I have had to think like this a lot lately. Some of my own children have been drawn over to their father’s “camp” as I am made to look like an evil foe. It grieves my heart. So now I pray fervently for their salvation. In that, I KNOW THAT I KNOW that even though we are separated for now, it will not always be this way. In Heaven, I will have perfect relationship with them.This gives me much peace when my heart aches over our current situation.

    Thank you for writing what I have been believing and holding on to in order to get passed the hurt of the broken relationships this side of Heaven.

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