“Do I really need friends?”
This question was recently asked by a newcomer to our church, after she happened to mention to me that she really didn’t have any close friends in the area. Though she’d lived here for many years, she still had not really established any relationships beyond the surface of small talk and playdate arrangements with other moms. She added that she really gets all the advice and encouragement she needs from the blogs she reads and of course, her daily Bible reading. What do you think? Are friendships something we truly need, or are they just a bonus that a few of us enjoy if we are so blessed?
When I took the time to think about it later, lining up the question with biblical truth, I came to the conclusion that we really do need friends. The first thing that came to mind that makes friendships a need, rather than a desire or a bonus, is that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and He is always in fellowship with the Son and the Holy Spirit. In fact, they are so closely related that the Bible says that they are one Being in three Persons. God is a Person who is in fellowship. This seems to indicate to me, since we are made in His image, that friendships and the fellowship that results from them would be a true biblical need for us as His children.
Examples of Friendships in Scripture
There are many examples of deep and lasting friendships in Scripture. David and Jonathan; Elijah and Elisha; Paul Timothy, Titus Philemon, Onesimus, and Silas (and probably many others); Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; the friends of the paralytic who lowered him down through the roof; Dorcas and her sewing circle; and of course, Jesus, John, Peter and the other disciples. You could probably go on for a long time listing accounts of friendships that are mentioned in the Bible. Now, if the Bible is to be our guidebook for life, don’t you think that it indicates that friendships and fellowship among believers are to be pursued? It sure seems that way to me.
Impediments to Friendship
If all this is true, then why do so many believing women seem to be lone rangerettes? Are there exceptions to this apparent biblical rule of life? I doubt it. I think there are several reasons that a woman may choose to go it alone. The first one, at least in my experience with them, is that some women just do not want to make the investment to have and to be a friend. Maybe they’ve been betrayed in the past, and they just are not willing to open up on that level to someone else. Perhaps they are burdened by heavy trials, such as chronic illness or pain, and they don’t believe they have the energy for a deep friendship. Maybe they are consumed with work or ministry, and simply do not have the time that it takes to maintain a deep and meaningful friendship.
Secondly, some women are unwilling to deal with the ups and downs of friendship. Perhaps they are easily offended or overly sensitive, and so they back away at the first indication that this relationship may not be perfect. A missed call, an overlooked text message, or even just the fact that a new friend didn’t seek them out on Sunday morning to say hello may be enough to make these women back off and decide not to pursue deeper fellowship with an individual. The risk is just too great.
If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, I’d like to challenge you today with some questions:
What do you think is the reason you have chosen not to bring people into your life on a deeper level? Here are some heart level questions to help you sort this out:
What do you think might happen if you allow people to really know you?
Are you concerned with what they might think of you if they really knew you?
If your life is too busy for friends, what might be the reason you have filled it up so completely?
Is it possible that you have done this purposefully, so that you always have a reason why you can’t get together with someone? Are you insulating yourself?
If you are unable to deal with the emotional aspects of friendship, what might be the heart behind that?
Is there a lack of trust in God and His sovereignty over your relationships?
Have you allowed your view of self to drift so far from a biblical one (your identity in Christ) that you would allow others to determine your value based on your performance in a friendship?
My Challenge to You
This Christian life can be really hard at times, my blog reading friend. I’m sure that you already know that, but it’s worth stating as I conclude my challenge to you today. Blogs, books, and podcasts are helpful tools, but they won’t cheer you on when you’re struggling, make you laugh when you’re taking yourself too seriously, or put their arms around you when you are falling apart. Only a true friend—one who knows you and is known by you—can do these things.
More importantly, those things that you’re relying on instead of seeking friendships will not ask anything of you. They don’t need you to encourage, exhort, rebuke, support, or build them up in any way. These are all things we are commanded by the Bible to do for one another. If you do not have friends, you are not doing these things, nor can you. Refusing to have or be a friend means you are not obeying biblical commands about fellowship and being a part of the body of Christ. If you find yourself in the league of lone rangerettes, I hope you will think on these things and prayerfully consider seeking out a biblical friendship today.