Friendship – a prism

Friendships are not myopic. Yes, yes – friendships are built on commonalities, but a little liberty please. Maybe for just one moment we can diminish this requirement concerning friendship. Possibly it is just not as important as we think it is. I would suggest that we have succumbed to a mindset that desires to equate friendship with the qualifications of a romantic relationship – being equally yoked and all that.

Friendships are not about being equally yoked. If they were then Paul and Timothy couldn’t be friends. If they were then Jesus and the apostles were not friends. If they are then God is not your friend. No, friendship is not about being equally yoked. Nor is it about being friends with just Christians. If it were then why did Jesus talk to the Samaritan woman? Let me guess, he wanted to be her Savior, but not her friend. It just doesn’t work. Interwoven with inter-faith friendships is also the subject of inter-racial friendships. Not only are they possible, but I think they are necessary.

A couple of examples that God intends for us to have inter-racial friendships and not fall to the myopia that explains away our inability to interact with friends from other ethnicities follows:
• Moses’ marriage to Zipporah
• Salmon’s marriage to Rahab
• Boaz’s marriage to Ruth
• Paul’s friendship with Titus
• God says “And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!'” Hosea 2:23
• God explains the makeup of his family. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

Now think about this: Racial friendships were an inferred requirement for Israel to have accomplished her call in the Old Testament to be a light to the rest of the world. In order for us, the church today, to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the utmost parts of the world (Acts 1.8) then we necessarily must become friends with people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds – no way around it. There are two things to note from these considerations:

First, our inability to move out of our comfort zone and seek friends who are of different faith systems or racial backgrounds is a result of selfishness and laziness not faithfulness. If the overarching principle of friendship is one of service then it includes service outside the household of faith or our own ethnic group.

Second, friendships with people who have radically different identities than ours do not mean that we cannot maintain our own identity. It does not mean that we have to assimilate to their worldview. It does mean that we learn to have stretching relationships that teach us how to be critical in a serving and loving manner. It does mean that we must be secure in our identity found in Christ Jesus.

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2 Comments to “Friendship – a prism”

  1. I also think that we need to be friends without ulterior motive…people know when you try to cultivate friendship with the only real goal being to share the gospel. Friends share with friends but they talk about other things as well. I’ve seen this “on the field” and it saddens me. Also, sometimes being a friend is listening to incredibly mistaken ideas and beliefs with the knowledge that God will open His door in His time for us to share the truth, not feeling we have to jump down someone’s throat and correct them immediately. People need to feel we respect their thoughts as we want them to respect ours. In the evangelical community I find that is really difficult for many.

  2. Mom,Thanks for the great insight. This is one of those aspects of friendship that walks on the razor’s edge. Thanks for keeping the discussion focused.iz

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