Faithless Friends versus Faithful Friends Even in the Church
In this world today we rush to gather around ourselves a circle of people who we call our friends. However, when they let us down or turn against us we feel so betrayed. Well, is the problem the person we called our friend or with us because we included them in our circle of friends?
This psalm today speaks of the reality that just because someone is friendly to us, or they share common interests with us, or they speak well of us, they qualify to be our friend. Even in the church, being friendly externally among the so-called fellowship of the church does not mean there are genuine bonds of friendship being created between two or more people. Sadly, but true, often the church fellowship is the loneliest place for many people. In a church you would think there would be the ideal opportunity to develop lasting, genuine friendships. However, in reality our churches are full of imperfect people with their own worldly agendas, just as it is in among the world. So I urge you, as Godâ€™s Word speaks, pick your friends wisely and realize that the bonds of friendship are to flow both ways equally and without expecting anything in return from one another except friendship built on a common faith in God.
Psalm 55 is another lament psalm of imminent danger surrounding the psalmist, but unlike the other laments, this speaks of the deep hurt caused by enemies because in this case, they were supposedly dear friends of the psalmistâ€¦ and, church buddies at that! Listen to some of the key verses of this lament psalm:
God, listen to my prayer and do not ignore my plea for help. Pay attention to me and answer me. I am restless and in turmoil with my complaint, because of the enemyâ€™s voice, because of the pressure of the wicked. For they bring down disaster on me and harass me in anger. My heart shudders within me; terrors of death sweep over me. Fear and trembling grip me; horror has overwhelmed me.
Now, it is not an enemy who insults meâ€” otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against meâ€” otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God.
He acts violently against those at peace with him; he violates his covenant. His buttery words are smooth, but war is in his heart. His words are softer than oil, but they are drawn swords.
Friendships are busted up over the hurt of words exchanged. Reputations have been ruined and relationships irreconcilably damaged between friends because of slander, gossip and words of anger. And it is sad that like the psalmist says, if only they were just some natural enemy, I would endure and be patient with their assaults, but these attacks are coming from someone who claimed to be a friend in Christ to me. How can it be? Well the Lord responds to this dilemma through the Word of God when He declared:
Psalms 15:1-5 (HCSB) Lord, who can dwell in Your tent? Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness, and acknowledges the truth in his heartâ€” who does not slander with his tongue, who does not harm his friend or discredit his neighbor, who despises the one rejected by the Lord, but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his word whatever the cost, who does not lend his money at interest or take a bribe against the innocentâ€” the one who does these things will never be moved. (God has established the conditions of who will be His friend and thus who should our friend as well.)
Prov 18:24 (HCSB) A man with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother. (In other words, value the quality of your friendship relationships not the quantity of friends.)
James 4:4 (HCSB) Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the worldâ€™s friend becomes Godâ€™s enemy.
(Likewise, do not value friendships as the world values them. We are to never place our friendship with others above and before our relationship with God.)
Consider in selecting friends, we can mistake Christian activity with becoming like Christ. They are not the same things. We must not assume that because our friend attends church and reads their Bible, they are growing as a Christian. Christian friendships are bonded by a genuine relationship with Christ, genuine fellowship through the Holy Spirit and genuine worship towards the Father.
As a Christian friend, God wants you to develop into the kind of friend who can strengthen others by your relationship with them. The words you share and the things you do should always lift up and bring comfort and encourage your friends.
Finally Christ said this in John 15:12-17: This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another.
Our first and foremost friend should be Christ Jesus. Through our relationship with Him we will uncover genuine Christian friends built on Godâ€™s love. What a testimony if our churches would not just be friendly places but a place of genuine friendships that everyone can depend upon. What a beacon of light and hope we could send to a world looking for a friend. Father, help me and everyone listening to become the kind of Christian friend we are called to be, beginning with You, Our Lord and Savior. Amen