John 15:12-15 (NIV)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 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.
In everything that God created, just one thing didn’t meet with the Lord’s approval. In Genesis 2:18, when looking at Adam, the only being of His kind, He said the following:
Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
God created people for emotional, mental, and physical intimacy so they would be able to share their innermost selves with one another.
Jesus explained this to His disciples, saying they should love each other as He had loved them. In a God-honoring friendship, two people build each other up and spur one another toward Christlikeness. Many people, however, fall far short of making and maintaining relationships that sharpen their faith.
Proverbs tells us how people should sharpen each other, just like iron sharpens iron.
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
People instead tend to welcome the trivial talk of casual acquaintances: the weather, tough bosses, and world affairs are safe topics. Sadly, believers often shy away from the penetrating conversations about sin, accountability, and biblical living that would serve to enrich their faith.
Strong relationships begin with men and women who decide to risk their pride and comfort in order to love people just like Jesus does. They recognize that one of the reasons we have friends is so we can motivate one another toward holiness. In a friendship of mutual trust and submission, two people will confess their sins to each other, offer gentle reproof, and share each other’s burdens.
The walls that we build to keep people at a distance are often defenses against God as well. We don’t want God too close to our most personal business. But as believers learn to share openly and freely with a brother or sister in Christ, they develop the capacity to be more honest with God.
The relationships we have with people around us are in line and mimic the relationship we have with God. As we learn to develop more authentic relationships with those around us, our relationship with God becomes more authentic. As we get closer to those around us, we get closer to God.
If you think that keeping your friends at a distance and your relationships with them only at a surface level, maybe that is saying something about your relationship with God.
I would like to challenge each of us to continue to work to have deeper and more authentic relationships with our friends. Let’s have more “true” friendships and less “just” friendships. That is the way our friendships in heaven will be so we should start developing them now. Let’s break down the walls in our own lives that are preventing us from have the types of relationships with others and the kind of relationship with God that He always intended for us to have.