I did not have friends for many years. There have always been people, but not always friends.
During those years, I thought that friends would alleviate my loneliness.
Then the Lord did bring friends into my life. Christ-centered friendships forged in the fires of life that encourage me and press me on in my walk with Christ.
Some of my closest friends are the most unexpected. Left to ourselves, we likely wouldn’t have become friends in the first place. Circumstances, however, led to seasons of doing life together, which led to friendship.
But—as thankful as I am for these friendships, I still experience loneliness. Lack of friends isn’t the problem. My heart is. I am tempted to find my satisfaction in everything but Christ. Friendship is one of these things.
Christ-centered relationships start in my heart. If my life is not centered upon Christ, neither will any of my relationships be.
A heart unsatisfied with Christ is never satisfied.
- It puts demands upon others that they cannot fulfill.
- It seeks to fill emptiness of heart with business of life.
In contrast, when Christ is my everything, friendship is a gift. In its rightful place, it enhances life. But elevated to the position of satisfier, it is never enough.
But Jesus is more than enough.
Throughout Christian history, God’s chosen people have been those that were misunderstood, rejected, despised, and forsaken. Even Paul—who lists the names of friends in his writings—said, “No one came to stand by me, but all deserted me.” (2 Timothy 4:16b) At this point, he was friendless. Even his missionary partners forsook him.
Following Jesus doesn’t mean we can’t have or won’t have friends. But it does mean that they aren’t our biggest priority. I am not called to seek friends but to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) I am called to count everything as loss so that I might gain Jesus. (Philippians 3:7-14)
Following Jesus means sacrifice. It is a call to lose our lives, not to protect them. But really, it isn’t a sacrifice. In light of what Jesus has given for us, nothing is too much. It’s a privilege to offer it back to Him.
Whether I have friends or the longing for them, neither take priority in my life. Jesus does.
So I offer my friendships back to Him. Because I know that the best friendships are those that are held loosely, ready to be parted with at a moment if He should ask for them.
So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning: that is not worthy of the name for “no polluted thing” can be offered. The life lost on the Cross was not a sinful one—the treasure poured forth there was God-given, God-blessed treasure, lawful and right to be kept: only that there was the life of the world at stake!
Are all things—even the treasures that He has sanctified—held loosely, ready to be parted with, without a struggle, when He asks for them?Lilias Trotter