Tips on Building Friendships
By Rodney W. Francis
Recently we were told by a non-Christian, who attends a Children’s Day Care Centre in a locaI Pentecostal Church in her area, that she finds the Christians to be not very friendly to her. This person is actually quite a friendly person herself and has taken the “plunge” to take her child to that local church. These church ministries to the community can be so impacting – providing they display a genuine friendliness toward those who are not in their church on Sundays. Most started those ministries to reach out to the community!
In my travels around the world, I witness again and again Christians who do not seem to know how to be friendly to strangers. Most churches have greeters at the door to welcome those who step inside their doors. For someone attending that particular church for the first time, it can actually be quite “threatening.” Some greeters can only grunt a “hello” or hand out a church bulletin to you – and that is as far as the conversation goes. There is often no expression of joy to see you there, and they do not know how to make conversation. One would wonder whether some Christians standing at the door welcoming us in to the service were possibly baptized in lemon juice?! It is a known fact that “first impressions” often determine whether or not the visitor will return to that church again. So, why don’t we pay more attention to the way we present ourselves when meeting a stranger for the first time? If we are not convinced enough about the message we represent to work on our ability to be welcoming, pleasant and friendly to people, then we have to ask ourselves whether or not we are “losing the plot” of what Christianity and church is all about? Church leaders could do themselves and their churches a lot of good if there was some positive instruction given on how to welcome visitors into their church services. This message is a challenge to all Christians – not just those welcoming us at the door of the church. How friendly are you?
Let’s take a closer look at this subject on building friendships.
SOME ANONYMOUS QUOTES:
FRIENDS ARE ONE OF LIFE'S BLESSINGS:
To have genuine friendships with other people is one of life's real blessings. We were created for fellowship, friendship and the need to inter-relate. Life can be very lonely without friends - even as Christians. To have a friend means we must first know how to make a friend - they do not "just happen." The word "friend" is written 53 times in the Bible; the word "friendly" 3 times; the word "friends" 49 times, and "friendship" 2 times (a total of 107 times). The main meaning of the word from the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word "rea" or "reya" (pronounced "ray-ah") is:
In the New Testament the word is mainly translated from the Greek word "philos" (pronounced "fee-los") meaning:
The dictionary meaning of "friend" is:
The dictionary meaning of "friendly" is:
WHY DO PEOPLE FIND IT SO DIFFICULT TO MAKE FRIENDS, AND BUILD ON THOSE FRIENDSHIPS?
Why are we afraid to get close to other people?
Some reasons are:
Yet we all need friends!
God said it was not good for us to be alone:
We need friends . . . companionship . . . others to talk to! Pets, like birds and animals, are a poor substitute to having real people friends. Yet pets dominate so many peoples' lives today. Pets do not answer back, criticize or hurt us as human friends tend to. Somehow we have to learn to rise above those negativities, for we are made to be friendly, and to have friends of the human variety. People can encourage, inspire, provoke, challenge, sharpen, help, bless and open doors of opportunity to us that pets never will. I am not saying pets are bad or wrong, but when they become a substitute for people friends then they become a diversion to what life is really all about. Let the Bible speak:
"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend" (Proverbs 27:17 , KJV).
"A friendly discussion is as stimulating as the sparks that fly when iron strikes iron"(Proverbs 27:17 , TLB).
I believe Christians should be the happiest, friendliest, contented, and most "open" people in all the world, because Jesus lives inside of us. We should not find it difficult to be friendly, or to make friends. Unfortunately, it is not always so. We often suffer from "poor people skills" and never take the time to learn how to change our weaknesses into strengths. At 40 years of age,Moses displayed poor people skills when he tried to deliver Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 2:11-15 ). He reacted against rejection, and finished up killing an Egyptian. That left him "in the wilderness" for the next 40 years of his life - a fugitive.
True friendship, for the Christian, must be born out of a personal friendship with God. Did you know that God is looking for friends too? He wants YOU and me to be His FRIENDS!How do we become friends with God?
FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD:
Jesus said: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the father will give you whatever you ask in His name. This is My command: Love each other" (John 15:12-17 , NIV).
What is the Biblical Basis for Friendship with Jesus? (The word "friends" here is "philos").
ABRAHAM WAS CALLED A FRIEND OF GOD:
"Are you not our God, Who did drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the seed of Abraham Your friend ("to love") for ever" (2 Chronicles 20:7 , KJV).
"But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend" (Isaiah 41:8 , KJV).
And so it happened just as the Scriptures say, that Abraham trusted God, and the Lord declared him good in God's sight, and he was even called "the friend of God" (James 2:23 , TLB).
"The Message" puts it this way: The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend."
How and Why did Abraham become God's Friend?
True Christian friendships are built upon those principles.
Moses became a Friend of God:
SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF FRIENDSHIPS:
Some friendships do not last ("some friendships do" - Ancient Translation), but some friends are more loyal than brothers" (Proverbs 18:24 , GNB).
There are "friends" who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs18:24, TLB).
"The man of many friends [a friend of all the world ] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (AMP.).
Quote: "The best recipe for making friends is to be one yourself."
Our relationship and friendship with Jesus enables us to know that we can persist in our asking of Him: "Ask, and you will receive . . ." The same principle applies with our close friends.
WHAT WRECKS FRIENDSHIPS?
Many friendships begin to develop, and then, unfortunately, things seem to go wrong. What are some of the reasons why friendships turn sour? There are many, but here are a few:
"A troublemaker sows strife, a talebearer divides friend from friend" (Proverbs 16:28 , Jerusalem Bible).
Jonadab was not a good friend to Amnon. His advice created havoc, and eventually cost Amnon his life (2 Samuel 13 ).
Remember Job's three friends? (Job 2:11 ; 16:20: 19:13-22; 32: 3 and 42:7). In his time of need they were not much comfort or use to him!
"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared" (Proverbs 22:24-25 , NIV).
The meaning of "anger" is: "1. a feeling of great annoyance or antagonism as the result of some real or supposed grievance; rage; wrath. 2. to make angry; enrage" (from Latin "angere" meaning "to strangle" (Collins). Anger separates friends!
Quote: "Anger is only one letter short of danger."
FRIENDS ARE TO SHARE AND REJOICE WITH!
In Luke 15 we read of three cases of being lost: a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. In each illustration, when each was found, there was a celebration, a time of rejoicing, a party! Who do we invite to a party? Friends! It is quite difficult to rejoice and share freely over personal things being found, in a room full of strangers. Friends make up a large part of our life!
In the light of the Scriptures presented in this article, where do you and I stand with regards to our ability to make friends? Are we improving in this area? Or, are we making some weak excuses as to why we are unable to reach out to others? For too long we've told ourselves that we are too shy, we are not good at meeting people, that we don't know what to say or do, etc. Let's recognize our weak points, work on them, and see some personal and positive changes for the better. Let's not spoil our own fulfilment in life through a lack of genuine friends - friends we could have had more of, if only we had consciously worked on discovering what it is that helps us to make friends.
Let us make sure we have at least one good friend, but preferably more than one, so our life can be much more balanced and we don't become so "demanding" on just one other person. Otherwise, in time of loss or death of that friend, we are plunged into despair and isolation with no one to turn to, or to help us. Good friends improve our quality of life. They inspire us to rise above life's obstacles, to keep right heart attitudes and relationships, to respect others, as well as God.
May you be blessed with good, genuine, and lasting friends.