Saturday, June 18, 2016

Being a Friend--by Linden Malki

Even the Lone Ranger had a sidekick, a friend who backed him up in dangerous territory. Whether we realize it or not, this world is dangerous territory--and always has been. Adam started out with a Garden full of friendly animals, but God knew that it was not good for him to be alone--without a human partner.  We are created to be complements--to be distinct individuals, with different personalities and abilities and needs.  It's easy to get into the the habit of thinking that we know another person "like a book."  Not really. I recall one time seeing my husband John, about 30 years into a good marriage,  walking up the side aisle of the store, and I found myself  thinking, "This is a different person, with a different brain, and I shouldn't expect him to think like me."  There are people who think like me in some ways, but nobody thinks exactly like anybody else.  God loves variety--we are created to be individuals, but to relate to other individuals, and with Him, in ways that will make us more than we could be otherwise.

It is good to have friends, some of which might even be related, but there is something needed  besides wanting someone to be your friend.  What do we need to be, ourselves, to be the kind of friend that someone else wants and needs?  Left to ourselves, we put our own wants and needs and ideas first.  So what's wrong with this?

God made us, first and foremost, to be His friends.  He doesn't force Himself upon us, but He does recognise when we truly want to do the right thing,  and offers us the opportunity to be His friend and follower.  This also includes the opportunity to be in healthy relationships to others of His creation. 
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippians,  truly wanted this.  The Message puts it like this:

  If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.  (Philippians 2:1-4) 

I think the key here is v3: "Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage."   The important thing to remember is that in the short run, it may look counterproductive to back off and respect others' ideas and wishes, but in the long run there are a couple of things to remember:  We don't know everything about everything; there just might be some things we can learn from each other,  and even when we're right, being gentle about it works better in the long run, and things may work out to our best even when we don't expect it.  And the most important thing is that we are NOT smarter than God!  And He said that "He who wants first place, he must be last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:33-37)

It is a blessing to have family and others who are good friends, but  the most important thing is to be a true  friend.

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