Pursued By God
10/23/13 at 10:40 AM 0 Comments

A Friend In Need

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The divine meaning of a true friendship is that it is often the first unveiling of the secret of love. It is not an end in itself, but has most of its worth in what it leads to, the priceless gift of seeing with the heart rather than with the eyes. To love one soul for its beauty and grace and truth is to open the way to appreciate all beautiful and true and gracious souls, and to recognize spiritual beauty wherever it is seen.

Black, Hugh (2011-03-24). Friendship. Kindle Edition.

Perhaps the area of my greatest dysfunction prior to God's intervention was in my friendships. Often for me, my friendships were formed with sexual motives laying beneath a veil of kindness. In many cases, not all, I befriended others in hopes to one day transform a platonic relationship into one that was sexual. And despite many of my friendships being with heterosexual men, this challenge to achieve sexual intimacy was one I was victorious at, time after time. Whatever the underlying causes for my desire to achieve a measure of closeness and intimacy with other men through sex were, the "closeness" that I did come to have through these means was fleeting and never entirely satisfying.

Give And Take

The idea of friendship as something spiritual and godly had been something somewhat foreign to me. Friends were people who served to make me feel better. People who met my needs, and sacrifice anything for me good. Less common was the thought that perhaps friendship should be less about what I took from the relationship, rather than put into it. It was far to easy to see all the ways that my friend could help me, and sadly, all too often the kindness I showed others was one that expected it to result in a payoff down the road.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

A Glimpse of God

In Christ, old ways of viewing the world and the people in it seem to morph into something new. In realizing my own sinfulness and God's holiness, a relationship was consummated which began to bear fruit. This relationship with Christ sparked the beginnings of a new outlook on those around me. In the process of being made whole in Christ's love for me, He enabled me to look less at what other's had to offer me; what "love" I could extract from them, how they could make me feel more "whole", and instead I began to more clearly see what I could give to them. This new outlook has most definitely not been without its bouts of selfishness and frustration, yet it has been surprisingly real to me and a great gift from God. Rather than a short cut to closeness and intimacy through sexual means, a closeness based on things spiritual, on sacrifice and giving, and characterized by honesty, sharing, and transparency proved most meaningful and satisfying.

Greater love has no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Love & Friendship

In what is the most defining and important act in all of history, Jesus chooses to describe His sacrificial death as an act of love for His friends. And taken further, His words tell me that the greatest love that I can aspire to is sacrificial love for a friend through self-denial and faith. All too often, the world says that we have a right to be respected by others, a right to be treated fairly and kindly by our friends, yet I don't see these worldly principals demonstrated in the life of Jesus. When we reflect on the life of our Savior, from the anguish of His soul in the garden to His crucifixion at Golgotha, He was spit upon, mocked, beaten, and killed - yet the unfailing love of this Friend did not falter or fail.

One of the most humiliating things in life is when another seems to offer his friendship lavishly, and we are unable to respond. So much love seems to go a-begging. So few attachments seem complete. So much affection seems unrequited.

But are we sure it is unrequited? The difficulty is caused by our common selfish standards. Most people, if they had their choice, would prefer to be loved rather than to love, if only one of the alternatives were permitted. That springs from the root of selfishness in human nature, which makes us think that possession brings happiness. But the glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to serve, not to be served. It may not be our fault that we cannot respond to the offer of friendship or love, but it is our misfortune. The secret is revealed to the other, and hidden from us. The gain is to the other, and the loss is to us. The miracle is the love, and to the lover comes the wonder of it, and the joy.

Black, Hugh (2011-03-24). Friendship. Kindle Edition.

Give And Receive - A Friendship or a Friend

Despite the loving friendship which was (is) offered to all by Jesus, who is capable of responding to His love in equal reciprocation? No one of course, yet this did not deter Him in offering such a great gift to us. Likewise, shouldn't we too offer the gift of our love to others in much the same way? If a friend loves always (Pr 17:17), should we strive merely to meet the world's standard of a friend; one who gives only in equal proportion to what is received? The example Christ sets in showing us how to be a faithful friend is one of love, self-sacrifice, and self-denial. In loving the unlovable, bearing the burdens of another, being long-suffering in love, mercy, and forgiveness, and believing in God's power to save that which is lost, we have a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate Christ's love to another, and gain an awesome insight into how God loves you and me - within a friendship or apart from one. What we may not receive by way of loving kindness, faithfulness, and loyalty from the object of our affections, most certainly doesn't compare to what we do receive from God: a closer relationship with our Redeemer, a transformed heart, and an increasing reliance on the only One who can fully love our souls.

To seek the good of men is to seek the glory of God. They are not two things, but one and the same. To be a strong hand in the dark to another in the time of need, to be a cup of strength to a human soul in a crisis of weakness, is to know the glory of life. To be a true friend, saving his faith in man, and making him believe in the existence of love, is to save his faith in God.

Black, Hugh (2011-03-24). Friendship. Kindle Edition.

Article originally posted at Fall And Die Blog
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