Directions 10/16/14

Finding Friends…

Lisa Degliantoni is an educational fund-raising executive in Chicago.   A few months ago while  planning her 39th birthday party, she realized that she had 857 Facebook friends and 509 Twitter followers, but still did not know if she could fill her party’s invitation list. “I did an inventory of the phases of my life where I’ve managed to make the most friends, and it was definitely high school and my first job,” she said.[1]

This happens to us.  It’s easy to make friends in college: “Hey, you’re a freshman?  I’m a freshman too!”  It’s easy to make friends at your first job: “Hey, I’m new.  Are you new?  Can we be friends?”
When we get married it gets harder.  Four people have to find things in common.  Children come along and the dynamic gets even stranger.  We make friends not because we bond with the adults but because the kids bonded.  While our children are romping, playing, and having a good time, we are making polite chit-chat, but not really connecting.  Then what do you do when the kids “break up?”  It’s hard to stay friends if the kids can’t stand each other.

No wonder 25% of Americans say they have no one to talk to about important things.[2]  Despite all our ways to connect, we are lonely people.

This is why God offers you a new family.  To come into this family requires new birth.  You are born again into the new family when you confess your sin and your need to Jesus, accept His offer of grace, and commit yourself to following Him.  This new family, called church, is a place to belong, to feel real connection, and to lean into each other.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do relationship in this new family.  Be sincere in our love.  Be devoted to each other.  See the good in people.  Be positive.  All of these are things you can do; they are behavioral choices.

Unfortunately, churches often decide to make other choices.  They act more like human families than God’s family.  They hate.  They have come and go commitment.  They are better at tearing people down than building people up.  They are negative, known more for what they are against than what they are for.  All of these are behavioral choices as well.  People choose this behaviors because they are afraid of what would happen if they really followed Jesus.

What would happen if people really behaved like Jesus?  Maybe there would be a love revolution.  Maybe people who be drawn to church because there was radical love.  Maybe church would be known for love, not war.

What would happen to you, if you stepped into a circle of God’s people and shared from your heart: “I’m here to find friends.  I need a new family to help me in life.  I need people who will love me like Jesus.”

[1] Alex Williams, “Friends of a Certain Age,” The New York Times, (7-13-12).

[2] “Americans Have Fewer Friends Outside the Family, Study Shows,” Duke Today (6-23-06).

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