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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

by Jordan Hathcock

“That’s the thing about friendship, it’s a lot rarer than love because there’s nothing in it for anybody.”

It’s hard to imagine not experiencing the amazing journey of friendship. We all can become a little oblivious when it comes to the incredible gift of what relationship truly is. Let’s not forget, many individuals don’t even get to experience genuine friendship throughout their lives. As study shows, more and more people are not developing meaningful friendships and thus, not able to create healthy communities that are able to thrive.

From the American Christian context, we can see this type of loneliness is also causing an abandonment of healthy church experiences. People become isolated due to the abundant number of rules and regulations pressed upon congregates. When it becomes more of an exclusive club instead of an inclusive party, things can get desolate pretty fast.

Here are some examples of how church communities create loneliness and isolation:

  • People don’t feel safe enough to connect (LGBTQ people for example)
  • Churches make groups with walls and the walls need to come down
  • People with unseen illnesses cannot always attend church services, which makes it hard to connect with others
  • People who have less feel like they are the only ones
  • Some people are not extroverts. But they still need connection.

These are just few on the many issues that the church at large is producing when it comes to isolation and loneliness. What gives? What can we do to counter this onslaught? Well, many have left these churches and have found freedom and friendship outside the religious walls. Out of these groups, you still have Christ participants and others not so much. I get it. When people have been burned by the religious institution, what we call church, it’s hard to come back to some type of faith.

The nones and dones are finding healthy friendships and that’s awesome. But, some are not. On top of that, some are still wanting that communal community to embrace. I think for those disenfranchised, the Body of Christ (i.e., a loving community) can still play a role in bringing about healthy friendships that in turn create healthy communities. It really boils down to effort and time. Let’s look at this verse from the Christian scriptures:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

A lot of directions we can go with this. Like did Jesus really consider his disciples slaves (more accurate translation of servant)? Or, did he truly make known everything about God to them? But the direction I want to go with this is the whole context of this verse is showing that the thing that lasts is LOVE (no greater than by laying down one’s life for a friend). Yes, love is always the default message throughout Jesus’ teachings: “This is my command, love one another as I have loved you”.

To become a people of true friendships, we must come to the realization that love is the only action to bring us into this reality. Duh, right? Yes, love is getting the final word nowadays and that’s good! But, agape love is different then a love that is a two-way street transaction. It is unconditional. People have a hard time grasping that, I know I do. It’s no easy task! It’s fucken hard! The question is: do we want to take it there to a systemic level? Hard to say. But isolated loneliness is a very difficult place to find oneself in and to claw out of.

There are many avenues and connections that need to be accomplished to combat this issue. From Jesus’ perspective, friendship is the place he seems to trust in to find the reality of the call: Earth as it is in Heaven. We cannot see the New Creation come into full reality unless we heed to this call of authentic camaraderie…

“Friendship is unnecessary like Philosophy, like Art it has no survival value rather it is one of those things that give value to survival”- C.S. Lewis

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By Mike Edwards

Beliefs claimed about God lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s interpretation of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different. Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

Friends can smell a hidden agenda a mile away.

It simply is wrong to engage in friendships for the purpose of converting them to your beliefs without advising upfront this is your agenda. It should be obvious that we need to start acting like true friends act toward one another. We engage in relationships because we are interested in having friendships with others, both to love and be loved. Discussions about spirituality or God best come up naturally.

If people want to pursue a relationship with God, they should see in our life something worth asking about. What if I told you the Gospel is: God loves you and longs for a relationship so you can be the kind of person you deep down truly desire to be. I am convinced God wants you to know true freedom is knowing your Creator’s love for you so you might love others similarly. 

God has been a respecter of freedom of beliefs from the very beginning.

Why would a God who is powerful enough to create not annihilate immediately those who choose evil and oppose God? Jesus did not force God on others but discussed spirituality in a natural, relational way. Jesus brought up spiritual matters when it seemed appropriate and was accepted. Jesus’ agenda was to simply love people in the moment, not to manipulate them.

We have portrayed God as a Parent who has certain conditions to be loved and accepted. We portray God as wanting to save people from hell, which is a myth, rather than being a God who respects one’s freedom to consider how they might make for a better world. God knows what human parents know. Love is the only path to authentic relationships but can’t be forced. “Controlling love” is a contradiction in terms. Relationships come out of inspiration not fear!

Even the Son of God in the Bible didn’t require certain beliefs.

Jesus simply invited His disciples to follow Him and see for themselves as opposed to adhere to a set of beliefs. He told Levi (Matthew): “follow me” (Lk. 5:27). Jesus basic message could be summarize as: “But to you who are listening I say: ….Do to others as you would have them do to you” (6:27-31). Jesus only encouraged those seeking a better life to follow His example. 

We all know the story of how Jesus responded to the religious elite who had caught a woman in adultery (Jn. 7:53-8:11). When Jesus rightly shamed the crowd, they dropped their stones and left Jesus and the woman alone. Jesus didn’t lecture, pray with the woman, or tell her to go to church. Jesus simply said: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus showed the woman all she needed to know – God loves you and encourages you to do what you know is right in your heart.

Jesus saved tough conversations for religious pretenders who claimed to represent God. The Pharisees were in love with their power, thus making religion self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees for their misguided emphasis on rules and obedience rather than a relationship and God’s radical love. 

Many may be surprised what Jesus said when asked how to have eternal life.

Jesus did not warn one to run like/from Hell. Jesus simply advised to love God and your neighbor. One saves their life by running from selfishness. A religious expert asks Jesus: “what must I do to inherit eternal life” (Luke 10:25). Jesus didn’t admonish one to get on their knees and pray for forgiveness. Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (10:25-27). Jesus knew loving God can empower us to be the person we deep down desire to be.

Eternal life in the Bible isn’t about one’s destination in the future but life in the present. J.D. Myers is right: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.” https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God-followers need to worry more about their example than what others believe.

Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, etc. fight over their different doctrines, yet all supposedly believe in the same message of loving your neighbor as yourself. Why would anyone seek spiritual guidance from people that can’t get along? We have enough conflict in our families, friendships, and places of work. Christianity or any religion is better off without buildings with names on them. We simply need relationships that encourage one another in their spiritual journey.

What does God believe in and desire for us all?

People feel manipulated rather than loved when spiritual folks have an agenda. Engage in relationships only with the desire to love others as they wished to be loved. The Gospel is simply that our Creator desires a relationship to influence us for the world and our own good. Jesus only wanted to help others listen to their heart. I am convinced a close relationship with my Creator helps me to be a better man, husband, father, and friend. Loving parents seek the admiration and respect of their children, so they want to follow in their footsteps to make this world a better place. Similarly, knowing and understanding God’s radical love can inspire selfless love toward others.

More posts in the I Doubt God Really ………. series:

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

 

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by Jim Gordon

In a day when many feel it is the job of the Christian to point out the sins and mistakes of others, I personally do not see Jesus being that way.

Jesus associated with all kinds of people and he showed love toward them. He was genuinely interested in them and accepted them. That does not mean he always agreed with them, but he accepted them as they were. He treated them with love and respect.

Acceptance does not necessarily mean we agree or condone the actions of another, it means we are kind, respectful and show the love of God to them. We obviously are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to treat one another with kindness.

Many say we have to point out the sins of others and warn them of impending doom or we are not fulfilling our obligation as a Christian. Yet I feel that we are told the Spirit will convict people of changes that should be made. The Spirit will draw people to the Father. We are not called to do the work of the Spirit, we are called to show the love of the Father to all people.

AcceptOneAnother

My opinion is that showing love and acceptance to people is more in line with the way Jesus treated others. He did not condemn, he did not hate, he did not associate only for ulterior motives of getting people to join him. In fact, the only people Jesus seemed to have issues with were the religious leaders who thought they were so much holier than others. They were mad at Jesus for associating with people they determined were the sinners and lower class of the day.

For me, rather than point out sins, rather than show condemnation and many times down right hatred towards people, I would rather do what Jesus tells us to do. Love God will all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor (all people) as yourself.

We love through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Love and genuine friendship will draw people into conversations and respect for one another, thus providing an atmosphere where we can all learn from one another and respect one another.

Unfortunately, one of the major issues many christians seem to have is in regard to LGBTQ issues. I am not sure why, but people who consider this to be a sin jump on this issue more than anything.

To me, I like to follow this way of thinking. Whether you are LGBTQ affirming or not, there is no reason to treat people with hate and contempt. Whatever you think about LGBTQ, right or wrong, affirming or non-affirming, be respectful, kind and show the love of God to all people.

We are all made in the image of God. We all have our interpretations and opinions. We each have to follow what we feel is right for us, but we do not have to force our views on others. We all deserve respect and the same equal rights as anyone else.

Accept each other for who we are and follow your convictions for yourself. There is no reason to be hateful toward anyone. We are all loved by God just the way we are now. If there is anything that needs to be corrected or changed in us, the Spirit will gently persuade us in the way we should go. It is not up to people to do the work of the Spirit.

Love and accept others. This means LGBTQ, atheist, people from different religions, races and nationalities. We do not all have to agree. Show each other love. Love makes more of an impact on people than does hatred, condemnation and forcing personal views on them.

Remember we are not told to go force our views and beliefs on others. We are told to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in christianity, I found myself always wearing a mask when I went to church. I always wore a smile on my face and I always acted like everything was good. When people would ask me how I was doing I would always say ‘I’m doing great’.

WearingMasks

The problem was I did not always feel like smiling. I was not always doing great.

So often in our christian walk we get the idea that we cannot be ourselves. We have to always be upbeat and positive and we cannot let people see we are human and have bad days.

I am not sure where that whole idea came from, but it is not wrong for our human emotions be seen. We are not always going to be happy or in a good mood, and there will be times when we are mad, aggravated or depressed. That is just being a normal human being.

I think we need to come to the point where we are not afraid to be the real us. We need to take off the mask and just be human.

That certainly does not mean we go around grumbling and complaining to everyone we meet all the time. We do not yell and take our frustrations out on everyone every time we see them. Yet we should not hide who we really are or how we really feel.

When we have those days of frustration and depression, it is then our brothers and sisters and those who care about us can be a help and encouragement and can lift us up.

As followers of Christ we have a deep-down sense of spiritual peace and joy that passes comprehension. That does not mean there are times when our humanity is just not in a good mood.

PeacethatPassesUnderstanding

That is why we need one another, why we need fellow believers and friends who care about us. None of us are always in a good mood. When we are down, our friends can help lift us up. When they are down, we can help lift them up.

Friendship, whether it is between fellow believers or people who see things completely opposite, is important to our well-being.

Being friends does not have to be with people of the same faith or with similar views. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. Our neighbor, whether a fellow believer or not, can be a good friend when we look past the differences and love one another.

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After many years of growing up in the traditional institutional church many things have changed over the past few years.

Of course, while in the religious system I was ‘set apart’ from the supposedly wrong kind of people. We had our friends within our particular brand of religion and tried to stay away from people who saw things differently.

We were told it was best to associate with like-minded people and fellow believers who agreed with our doctrines and interpretations, but beware of people who have different beliefs or who came from difference faiths or, worse yet, no faith at all.

After over fifty years in organized religion my wife and I came to a point where we felt it best to leave the system and follow a life with God outside of organized religion.

I would not tell anyone to do this or try to draw anyone out of church if that is where they are happy and satisfied. I personally believe the system is flawed and for those who choose to do so, it is better outside the walls than in. But that is a decision I would leave to each person to make under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I can say for us, after leaving we have been happy with the life we have found. We have freedom to follow the Spirit as he guides us. We rely on him rather than putting our faith and trust in a pastor or some spiritual leader. We have found more meaningful fellowship as God brings people into our lives to actually talk rather than sitting quietly in a service looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

After going through the process of leaving and starting to write on Done with Religion, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people from various walks of life, various faiths and religious beliefs. I have met many nice people that are LGBT and atheists as well and I am so glad to have done so.

Equals2

It seems to me being open to being friends with all people is so much better and interesting than feeling we are some kind of holy people who should stay away from others. It does not take long to realize that the labels that are placed on others do not completely described the person behind it.

Obviously, we are not going to agree on many subjects yet we can look past those differences and find many things we do share in common. We all want to have a meaningful, purposeful life. We all want love and friendship. We all want to get our bills paid, enjoy life and be happy. We all have causes and interests we want to promote and be successful at doing.

So rather than thinking you have to stand your ground on certain topics and separate yourself from others, look past those things and see the fellow human being in each person you meet. It seems much better to enjoy the friendships of all kinds of people in this life rather than let the differences separate us.

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(Re-Post from September 3, 2014)

We all want to have friends. Have you ever heard the phrase to make a friend you have to be a friend? Obviously, everyone wants to be liked and have friends that are likeable and easy to be around.

I think it is important to also be yourself. Not everyone is going to like you and want to be friends. I have seen people work so hard to change and be someone they normally are not just to be friends with someone they think would be fun to be around.

Friendship

My thought is if you have to change who you are why do you need that kind of friend? This applies to any and all labels we place on one another whether it is black/white, gay/straight, religious/atheist and so on. The label should not make a difference when it comes to friendship.

There is another thing that bothers me about friendship. Have you ever met someone for the first time and they just seem so friendly and interested in you? I have been through this several times. I would run into someone in the store or out for a walk and they are smiling and so interested in getting to know a little about me. I get kind of anxious to get to know them and see if a new friendship was starting. Later I get a call or an email and get asked if we could meet for coffee and talk a while.

After the second time this happened, I started realizing that each time this has happened it was someone with an ulterior motive.

They really were not interested in me, they were interested in what I could do for them. Basically, they were selling something and looking for new people to join in under them doing the same thing.

I tell you this was so disappointing each time it happened. I was thinking, wow, what a nice person. I would like to get to know them and get to be friends. Then, wham, the rug was pulled out from under me by finding out they only wanted to make a sell or add me to their sales network.

True friends are hard to find. Even among people who are not selling something and do not have ulterior motives, it is hard to find a true friend.

Friends

Often it seems most of the friends we have are friends as long as we have the same interests or involved in the same activities. If we go to the same places, work together or involved in sporting events we talk and associate but if we leave that particular activity we usually do not see each other or talk.

True friends love us and accept us as just as we are. They are not waiting until we change and become more like them. They are actually interested in us. They want to see us succeed. They feel comfortable telling us things that are not popular or what we need to hear when they know we are getting into something that is not good for us.

A true friend will be there for you even when miles apart or when we have different interests and activities. A true friend is one of the hardest things to find in this world.

Now as followers of Christ, we have the best and most true friend possible in Jesus. But let’s be real, we need a flesh and blood person right in front of us to discuss things, do things together, encourage and support each other and cry with one another.

Jesus will never leave us, he will never forsake us. He is closer than a brother and the best friend we will ever have in life. Yet in this life we need human friends. And those human friends, if you think about it, are almost like having Jesus right in front of you. Since we are now the temple of the Spirit, God living in us, we are in a sense Jesus to each other. I am not saying we are God but His Spirit lives within us and we can love and accept each other through that common truth more than anything.

So, for those shallow people who are only looking for someone to use and get things from I would rather not even start a friendship. We still love everyone through Christ but we do not have to be friends with everyone. Pray for the guidance of the Spirit to lead you to true friends in your life and see Christ in the brother and sisters he brings along.

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Kindness is something you do not find much of in our world today.

The Bible speaks about kindness many times. Kindness is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.

The dictionary says kindness is being considerate, or helpful. I think the world be a better place if everyone treated each other with kindness. I am talking about all people, even those you do not agree with in life. Those who have different interpretations, lifestyles, sexual orientations, political stands or religious beliefs.

It usually doesn’t take a lot to be kind. Sometimes I think we make it so hard, when something as simple and easy as a genuine smile can brighten someone’s day. Being polite and kind to others can sometimes be just what they need to make their day. Holding the door for someone, letting them go ahead of you in line, smiling and saying hello… you never know.

Kindness

Simple Kindness

The little, everyday things we can do to show others kindness can be a seed planted in their lives that will one day grow and help lead them to Christ.

These days it seems we even have a hard time with Christians treating each other with kindness. We want to fight and argue over our views and interpretations and forget that as Christians, we all have the common ground of faith in Christ.

A friend of mine recently talked about relationships and how they seem to come to an end. He said it is based on what the relationship is about. If it is based on some thing or some activity, once we get tired of that particular thing and move on, the relationships based on that activity usually come to an end. I have noticed the same thing among those who attend an organized church. You may spend many years there, making many friends and being involved in all the activities. Yet once you leave, either to move to another church or to have communion outside the walls of the organization, all your friends from the old place seem to disappear also. Our friendships and relationships should be based on the common ground of faith in Christ and His grace. This should not change no matter where you go or how you participate in life as the Church.  Our love of the Father and for one another as His children should be the one thing that can hold together a friendship.

Let’s see if we can make a point of doing at least one act of kindness each day. You never know where it may lead.

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