By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Understanding and Developing Healthy Biblical Friendships
Read Proverbs 18:21, 24; 27:17; 19:1-3;
While in college, I had the great opportunity to be a teaching assistant in an elementary school in San Jose, California. This school was doing a pilot program on bussing. Various races were brought in so an ethnically well-rounded school could be the test bed of some new ideas on race relations and learning theories. As a psychology major, I jumped at being a part of this. Soon, I was the acting assistant school psychologist, testing and evaluating the students, and watching all these new ideas we thought would work fail. Parents bickered and fought. Kids came in abused and hurt. Teachers were frustrated because the hope of a new system soon turned into despair. What we thought we could do through new ideas, legislation, and mandates did not work. Why? Because people are naturally inclined to hate and not get along rather than to love and get along. I saw kids tear at each other like animals, parents get into fistfights and those were the good days! What we had hoped for that we could form an atmosphere of peace and togetherness did not transpire.
In that school, I also volunteered as a teaching assistant in the kindergarten. We taught those kids how to use the scissors and glue, to not eat the glue, to sit in a chair, to learn their colors and how to behave, relate, have good manners, etc. No child came to us naturally equipped, able to interact in a good and pleasant way. None of us came into this world equipped to be good. We had to learn how and keep on learning. Just as we had to teach those kindergarteners how to behave and to not eat the glue, we also have to learn the skills necessary in making friends. Some people get this training early in life, and learn those skills. They are the ones who tend to be successful and well liked. The ability to learn and grow in this area is an essential foundation for making and building friendships.
The uniqueness of our humanity is that we do not need to learn how to be bad at stuff. We are naturally good at hate and evil. Those kindergarteners came to us unable to behave, while their parents fought and used colorful four-letter metaphors to express themselves. It is all part of our sinful nature. Thus, to grow beyond this filth of works (Galatians 5: 19-21), we have to be willing to learn to apply the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23). We offered the parents effectiveness training; however, few of them took advantage of this or any of our other programs designed to turn them from the harshness of their situations toward a better direction. These parents lived in a pattern of life using what they knew and had experienced, and were not interested in growing from those experiences to better ones. They did not want to take advantage of getting better jobs, better living situations, or to get off drugs and alcohol. Even the immigrants, who were here illegally, could get citizenship under amnesty programs; yet, most did not want to. Many of them were on drugs, alcohol, welfare, and were inundated with anger and bitterness, choosing to remain in that harsh attitude. They had the opportunity to change; the resources and money were there to help them, but few wanted it.
I learned a valuable lesson on human behavior. We have to want something to get something. Work and effort are required. Even if it is dropped in our lap, we still have to be willing to pick it up. In that same college, I lived in the dorm and was amazed at the contrast between students whose parents paid for everything versus the students who had to work their way through school. Most of the students who had college and all they could possibly need dropped in their laps, partied their way through school. Few respected their parents and even fewer made anything of themselves with careers, relationships, or character after graduation. They did not learn to stretch; all they had was ingratitude and no appreciation of what they had been given. They squandered it all away. Conversely, the students who had to work generally became more successful in their careers, more appreciative, and had more character. Stretch out your hand, in Matthew 12:13 implies that there is a connection between our faith and Jesus' healing power. The healing was given, but it also had to be received! The initiative needed to be taken. We have to wake up, and get moving (Ephesians. 5:14). Although grace is given, we still have to act on our faith to receive it. The same is true with relationships; we have to want to be good at them to be good at them!
We have to learn what love is, how to relate, and, how to make friends. We have to want to! We have to learn and keep on learning how to love. We have to learn about character, put it into practice, and keep learning and practicing. There is no end to this cycle until we are called home. Once we stop, we stop relating, and our relationships stop. We need to see friendships as enjoyment, given to us to use. People are precious and are brought to us to enjoy. If we get this backwards, we will fail with life's precious gift. We are to seek the fun and the excitement of something special, because each friendship is special.
1. How is friendship operated on the principle of love?
2. How important is being real and honest, not pretentious or fake?
3. Why is the willingness to work at it and put in extra effort required?
4. Have you wondered why some people succeed in business and church leadership even though they seem to have no skills or abilities to contribute effectively to their profession?
5. Why do you think we have to learn what love is, how to relate, and, how to make friends? What is the key to making this happen?
6. Do you think that if you wanted to, you could do better in making good and lasting friends?
7. How is building friendship an act of our faith?
8. Consider that people are naturally inclined to hate and not get along rather than to love and get along. How can this knowledge help you be better at making friends? What extra efforts are needed for you? What blocks those efforts from happening?
9. How does good character come into play in friendships? What steps can you take to do a better job at putting good character into practice?
10. What can your church do to better facilitate an atmosphere of peace and togetherness?
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:2-4
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/