How many of us know how to be a good friend? How many of us know the pleasure of having one?
(SNUFMUMRIKO: “Some Distant Afternoon”)
Two years ago I wrote a post called “Profile of a good friend”, partly in honor of my good mate Terence Ruffle, who, unfortunately, lives on the other side of the ocean…
I know that plenty of you people out there have lots of friends, and some good ones at that. I wish I could say I do too, but apart from Terence, I have none. The one or two people who claimed to be my friends in recent years have vanished in such a way as to let me know that they didn’t really mean it: so much for them.
When my family and I moved into our present home, I went next door to introduce people to their new neighbors. I shook their hands, told them my name, and said that if they needed anything they could come and see me. I haven’t seen anything of them since.
For several years neighbors of ours have been seen making a dash from their car to the house before they have the unpleasant experience of having to say “Hi” to someone who is evidently uncool and weird. Hey-I like being uncool and weird: I’ve worked on it all my life, and no amount of rejection is going to force me to become what I am not. I’m not putting on an act for anyone. I don’t fit into any categories or molds, and I’m very glad about that. I’m not saying that rudeness is a good thing, I’m saying that I want to be me, not what others think I should be.
When I was at college a long time ago I learned about something called “privatization”, and I’ve had plenty of time to see it in action and to see the results of it. Now there are so many noses stuck in the air, in the television, in the phone, and in the video games, that you (or should I say “I”) can’t get one of them to point my way. When I attempt to get a conversation from someone, I see fidgeting, discomfort, and eyes rolling in any direction but mine. It’s always time to go. “Well, I’d better let you go…” is a common phrase around these parts, when someone wants to extricate themselves from your presence, but attempts feebly to make it sound like they are doing you a favor. Perhaps they are.
I wish, oh how I wish, I could say that the situation is different in the church: it is not. You have to fit in with the crowd to be accepted. You have to engage in all the right small talk. You have to wear the right clothes, have the right look, the right job, the right income, and live in the right part of town. You know, if I were not a Christian, and I went into a church looking for love and truth, I most likely would not go back there again. But I know that human rejection is not an evidence against God. I keep my faith by knowing that my God is faithful, that He is loving, and that He is my friend.
And perhaps that is as it should be, because my Bible tells me:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man” (Jeremiah 17:5).
If it’s a case of having to compromise my faith in order to have a friend, or to creep and crawl to someone who really doesn’t want to know me just in order to gain a little warmth and company, then the choice is clear, because not only has God called us to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17), but He asks each of us this rhetorical question:
“What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
So when you get right down to the nitty-gritty truth of earthly friendship, you can count yourself blessed and privileged if you have a real friend. But don’t forget that your only true, dependable, faithful, loving friend is the one who died for you- Jesus Christ- in order to make a way for you to live with him forever. And God has said:
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b).
There is no human friendship to match this-we can only work towards being like Jesus in the way we treat people. But some of us have good friends here on earth, and below is my own personal profile of a good friend. I realize that very few people can live up to such standards-I certainly can’t, but maybe we should all aim for them:
A GOOD FRIEND…
Never stops being your friend
Agrees to disagree
Shares some of your opinions, ideas and views
Is someone you can laugh with frequently
Laughs with you, not at you
Speaks no hateful words behind your back
Is a listener
Is interested in you and not just himself
Speaks the truth in love
Is someone you can be truthful with
Is always willing to help
Cares for his own (Terence took his aging father into his own home)
Does not engage in destructive gossip
Is always respectful (teasing is healthy fun though)
Is anxious to help you think problems through
Lifts your spirits when you’re down
Is more willing to praise than criticize
Rejoices in your achievements or profit
Advises, doesn’t nag
Always thinks good of you
Never seeks revenge for your mistakes (Terry laughs at them – what could be better?)
Is quick to apologize
Is quick to forgive: doesn’t hold grudges
Feels your hurts
Overlooks your weaknesses and foibles
Is someone you feel comfortable being yourself with