Why do some find it easy to make and keep lasting friendships while others struggle with allowing anyone to get too close? It’s said that President Reagan was like this in his relationships – although extremely charismatic and engaging with most, few if any, ever made his inner circle.
As we know, true friends are a rare gift, and if we always default to keeping people at a safe distance, we may never experience this unique treasure. Typically, three factors contribute to the building of the walls that keep our intimate fellowships at bay:
Individualism: Rugged individualism, especially for men, has no doubt been glorified. From John Wayne to James Bond, the strong silent type is always there to help others and never needs anything in return. The problem is if we remain largely disconnected from others, we are weakened and significantly reduce our opportunities to truly help anyone (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Vulnerability: Insecurities and fears of rejection encourage us to keep our distance from others. For if we expose too much of who we are, we may be criticized and even gossiped about. Sadly, this lie keeps us isolated and diminishes the potential for people to see Christ in us and witness what He can accomplish through us, despite our faults (Matthew 5:16).
Investment: Sometimes greed causes our hesitation in getting too close, because of the risk of being asked for more than we may be comfortable giving – either materially, or relationally. Alternately, pride can get in the way when we find ourselves too ashamed to accept anything from anyone during our times of need. Thus, the cycle of good will is broken (2 Corinthians 8:14). Unfortunately, when greed and pride is allowed to infect our relationships, division, isolation and destruction typically results.
Application: “A Friend Like Jesus” – 1 John 3:16
To get a perspective on just how important relationships are, all we have to do is look to Jesus. During His time on earth, He developed relations with the masses, chose twelve to go deeper with and then from the twelve, He drew even closer with three. Did He spend all His time with people? No – for He also made intentional time to be alone with His Father, but His life was given for others. So much so that He even allowed moments for His friends to care for Him, even though He needed not. Are we available to be used by God so completely? Even if it means getting out of our comfort zone, breaking down our false walls of protection and investing in the friendships God brings our way?