January 5, 2010
The Friendship Project
"But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?'
It was a room full of nearly strangers, barely friends-until that day. I asked the ladies to stand as I read from a list of life experiences. If they had lived through one of the descriptions they stood up. One by one, sobbing women rose to their feet as I read the list. They were family in name only - a family of believers from the same church gathered together for a women's retreat where I was the guest speaker.
Twelve women stood together when I asked if anyone had had a miscarriage. One woman had buried a spouse. Five came from unbelieving homes. One had lived through marital infidelity. Three had escaped relationships where they had faced verbal, physical or sexual abuse. Three ladies had struggled with depression. The list went on and on. By the time I had finished, every woman in the room was standing.
We were knee-deep in one another's junk, and yet I had never felt closer to a group of women. As we closed the session I asked them to share more about their stories at their individual tables. As I surveyed the room, women who had been strangers only minutes before were huddled around one another, embracing, sharing and weeping. God was knitting hearts together. It was a moment I'll never forget.
I am realizing that women of all walks of life crave friendships. And yet so many of us feel that we are lacking meaningful, authentic relationships. How is it that a church full of women with a common thread of faith are not friends? Worse yet, if we aren't friends, can we hope to offer authentic relationships to those who enter the doors of our churches every week?
I fear the answer is "no, we can't" unless we change and make a few necessary sacrifices.
Recently I've gleaned some life lessons from the story of the Good Samaritan. In Luke 10:30, Jesus paints a not-so-favorable picture of the religious and respectable. I wonder if He would have the same indictment of our churches today? The priest was seemingly too busy to befriend the one in need.
Can I be honest? I am regularly guilty of this sin. Before and after church my husband and I busy ourselves with the work of tending to our children, and doing the business of church. I move past people who are hurting, but I don't stop with my busyness to see their needs. I rarely get off my horse. I am the priest.
The Levite rode past the hurting man too. Perhaps he felt he was too clean to get dirty in the messy business of grace and mercy. Helping the man in need would have made the Levite ceremonially unclean. He wanted to preserve his position and place.
Let me do a little more truth-telling. I don't usually want to get knee-deep in other people's junk. If I don't get into messy relationships I avoid having to deal not only with my own junk, but other's as well. So I don't get off my horse. I am the Levite.
Here is the problem. Real relationships require time and transparency. If we want to move from being casual acquaintances to genuine friends you and I will have to share pain and joy in an authentic, sacrificial way. I believe this, but for right now it's just theory.
I'm curious. What would happen if we covenanted together to get off our high horses and got into one another's junk? I wonder if our churches would explode. I wonder if lives would be forever changed. I wonder if the Church would shed a little bit of its reputation of hypocrisy.
Want to see what would happen? It's not too late to add a New Year's resolution. Let's resolve to change lives through friendship. Let's slow down. Let's share our stories. Let's get knee-deep.
Dear Lord, give me eyes to see those in need around me, and give me the courage to respond. Father, I want to be a part of life-changing friendships by offering grace and mercy. You call us to love others as ourselves. Help me obey this all-consuming command. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship by Sarah Zacharias Davis
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Join Whitney's Facebook group The Friendship Project for more details about this campaign
How can you simplify your Sunday routine to allow more time for building relationships?
With whom can you share part of your story in hopes of offering encouragement and hope?
Do you have genuine, edifying friendships? Why or why not?
Are you reaching out and developing new friendships with those in need around you?
Luke 10:27, "He answered: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (NIV)
Luke 10:33-34, 36-37, "But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds…and took care of him… ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.' (NIV)
© 2010 by Whitney Capps. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Tuesday, 05 January 2010.