Who among us doesn’t love community with others? We were made in the image of God, and that pretty much guarantees we desire relationships. Even the introvert would struggle if always left alone.
Community enables us to grow and learn and love. Without relationships, we would certainly suffer emotionally and psychologically. This isn’t to say God isn’t enough, but His creation of man points to His love of intimacy with others. His creation of woman is a clear sign we were not meant to live alone.
On the level of friendship
There are multiple levels of community and relationship. The large-scale version of this being church. This beautiful example of community is proof of how we can thrive when we come together in the Name of Christ.
Marriage, of course, is another level of relationship, the deepest and most intimate form aside from our relationship with Christ. Nothing quite compares to this type of community, this reflection of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the Church.
And then there is the in between of large-scale church community and marriage: friendship.
Another way of expressing the love of Christ, friendship enables us to be uniquely transparent with someone not related to you. Your friends are your support system, your confidants, your running buddies. How blessed we are if we experience intimate friendship during the different stages of life!
Depending on your personality, you may have a lot of people you know but not a lot of really close friends, a few close friends and some acquaintances or somewhere in between. We all experience varying levels of closeness with the people in our lives. Some people desire to feel surrounded by dozens of people who might be close enough to be considered a friend, others just want a few people by their side who know them deeply.
We all long to be known and loved in the midst of our quirks, personalities and fears. And while this desire is one given to us by God, sin can entice us to turn this beautiful desire into a danger to our minds and hearts.
When desire turns to danger
God has given us the gift of friendship. But what happens when we so long for intimacy with others, we use this desire to achieve our own agendas? Yes, we need to open our lives up and invite people to journey with us, but whom are we inviting, and why?
The danger of intimacy comes when we forget why God gave us the desire for friendships. The people in our lives are supposed to encourage us and push us to grow in Christ, and we should do the same for them. Friendships are not meant to pump our pride or fill voids we carry in our souls.
Opening up to others is a wonderful way to grow deeper in our friendships. We must be careful, though, that our reasons for sharing with others is not to draw attention to ourselves and not to use our stories to pull someone into a relationship. When we open our hearts to another, we are welcoming them into our lives on a deeper level. And if our reasoning for this is only to feel loved and known, then we are not only fooling ourselves, but we are also setting up the scene for potential hurt.
The danger is not the person we choose to befriend, although we do need wisdom when knowing with whom to share our hearts. The danger is actually the reason we choose to befriend. If we’re looking for someone to make us feel important or the center of attention or wise, then we’ll be left wondering why even this desire from God can’t be fulfilled.
Breaking the stereotype
The stereotypical, Bible-based answer would be only God can fill the deepest desires of our hearts. No relationship, whether spouse, child, mentor or best friend can give you everything you need to feel complete.
Stereotypical, but true. Do you truly believe that?
God wants us to have fellowship and intimacy with each other in order to glorify Him and become more and more like His image each day. He doesn’t want us in relationship with others to make us feel important or fulfilled. Our friendships are yet another picture He has given us to reveal His character and love for us. When we understand that, we will begin seeking relationships to bring Him honor, not to feel completed by another human.
It’s not about us. It’s about reflecting the image of Christ with every breath we take and every friendship we form. And if God is truly the only One who can satisfy, why would we push that hope on a sinful human?
Let’s Talk About It: How do you use your relationships to draw closer to God?