Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Freedom in Friendships

There are only two things that God says really matter in this life. Loving Him and and loving others. That seems almost naïve considering the complexity of our lives and the challenges that come with them.

I used to work with a man from Poland when I was a toolmaker at General Motors. That was the time when the cold war was still on. My friend had literally jumped ship in Halifax harbor. As I was talking with him I said it must be nice to have the freedom and money that he now had compared to his life in Poland. His response surprised me and obviously still echoes in my brain.

He said, “It’s nice having the things that living in Canada provides but in spite of living under an oppressive regime and having nothing, I miss something far more than my material gains. A typical evening in Poland was spent with friends with nothing more than a bottle of water on the table. I really miss those days.”

I’m a little mystified these days at how Christianity, which has the core value of loving others has somehow morphed into finding allegiances in church differences, following pastors and controlling relationships. I’ve heard way too many stories of people being shunned for simply leaving a church. What had been considered long time friendships turned out to be simply rallying around the group. Step away from the group and the friendship is often lost. Ask questions that don’t fit in with the group think and alienation is sure to follow.

If one probes a little bit into the relationships of senior leaders within church, you will find some very lonely people. They often wonder if they have a friend in the world. These are the same ones who set the example for the flock and are the first to shun those who leave their sphere of influence.

I have the privilege of having a few friends that don't need to agree in order to be there for each other. One of them is very involved as a pastor and has said to me that he is a little sad that his best friends wouldn't get along well if he put them in the same room. The reason they wouldn't get along is because each one is so busy defending his particular church system. At the friendship level there is plenty of room for differences but at the system level, alienation would have been guaranteed.

How do you know if you have a friend? Try leaving whatever it is that you’ve been doing together and see if they still call you. You may be surprised that it wasn’t friendship that held you together but the activity which you had been involved in.

What a sad state of affairs when God's people define their friendships through an allegiance to a building, pastor, sermons, doctrine or activities.


Mike said...

The best test of friendship is gleaned from the tv show House.

House borrows $5000 from his friend Wilson. A week later, Wilson makes an offhand comment about never getting the money back. House immediately cuts him a check. Wilson is surprised, and asks why, if House didn't need the money, why did he ask for it?

"I've been borrowing increasing amounts of money from you since last summer when I borrowed $50. I just wanted to see how far you'd go."

House rocks.

David Grant said...

I like House as well.