In a recent research survey, 61% of people ages 18-25 reported miserable loneliness in our post-pandemic world and felt as if no one cared for them. No matter if you are single or married, experiencing isolation and loneliness can often lead to depression that can be crippling. People in the world are looking to belong. In Christ, as His followers, we have the answer.
The Church is a family, and we should seek out those who are isolated because they may be truly suffering. We enlarge our heart and become vulnerable with each other, by God’s grace, to enjoy meaningful and fruitful friendships that are soul-quality and one-souled, knit closely together with one another. Do you struggle with being vulnerable with others? What is causing you to hold back with being transparent and open with someone? Perhaps you have been hurt in previous relationships- rejection or betrayal may have wounded your soul and you are scared to become vulnerable with others again. We must trust that Christ will heal that hurt and will bring you into healthy Christian friendships for His glory.
To be able to build intimate Christian friendship, we must also learn how to go beyond surface level conversations and move into heart-to-heart type of conversations. It’s easy in our society to be self-isolated and guarded in the name of privacy. Sadly, consumerism in our culture has infiltrated our relationships too. If friendships don’t enhance value in our life, we see them as disposable and easily replaceable, or even ditch friendships altogether. As members of the Body of Christ and brothers and sisters in the family of God, He has called us to be joined together as Ephesians 4 tells us:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (15-16, ESV).
Intersecting Faith and Life:
To be able to speak the truth in love to one another, we must cultivate trust in our friendships. True Christian friendships are rare and costly because they require a lot of work, selfless commitment, and intentional engagement. Our self-centered heart or past hurt can get in the way and can lead us to isolate and choose selfishness over investing in meaningful Christian friendships. We must press past these temptations to build up walls around our heart or seek only things that satisfy self. The foundation of good friendships must begin with Christ (vertical then horizontal) to be able to sustain loyal, sacrificial, intentional, caring, and committed relationships. We must also remember that friendship with the things of this world is to make one an enemy of God (James 4:4) and will keep you from growing in love- love for Christ and love for others. What worldly pursuits have become a stumbling block to your friendship with Jesus that may be keeping you from getting to know Him in a deeper way? Remember, the nearness of God is our good (Psalm 73:28). The more we grow in our relationship with Christ, the more we will grow in our friendships as well. The Lord wants us to flourish in both areas. To flourish in Christ means we must become fluent in friendship. Jesus is the ultimate friend and wants to have a friendship with us so that we can participate with His mission, which is discipleship. The consistent pattern in our life should be to draw near to Him to then draw near to others and grow in Christ together- for our good and for His glory.
1 Thessalonians 5:11