I can’t believe how fast the week goes by! I wrote this article ages ago, but it keeps cropping up in conversation, so I thought I’d share.
Trust, you and your struggles in The Church are not alone. But we can all do better and make a way for positive change.
Why Christians Don’t Make Good Friends
(Title aside, there are some people who can be good friends and also be Christian.)
In the last couple years, my husband and I could have walked away from organized fellowship with a clear conscious.
We’ve been lied to and about, thrown under multiple buses, forgotten, abandoned, had our privacy and home infringed upon, generosity exploited, and had our personal lives and marriage attacked from every angle, all from “Church Going Christians”. The saddest part?
We aren’t the only ones.
But when my husband lost his job February 2013, we felt exceptionally alone. We couldn’t find anyone to hang out with and very few people sought us out. It was as if all our friends disappeared. We had almost zero support.
The people who came through?
Overwhelmingly, our friends who aren’t Christians were the only ones making an effort.
I kept asking myself why our Christian friends were so cold. It sucked, being forgotten. We kept thinking we’d done something wrong.
A few people thought of us every once in a while, but like acquaintances who run into each other, not friends.
Once, when I was little, I went to put on my pajamas and I thought I would hide under the covers and pop out when someone came to find me. No one came. They didn’t even miss me saying goodnight. So, I fell asleep under the blanket, unfound and un-missed.
Years later, the incident came up. My parents didn’t remember it and said, “We probably thought you just went to bed.”
Without saying goodnight? Without saying a word?
Doug and I were hiding hoping someone would look for us and no one did.
Now, we have some Christian friends that have shown me the missing piece. Ironically, it was our friends outside the Church who were being intentional. Now I know what intentionality looks like between Church members and it’s changed everything.
Our new friends don’t leave us alone. That is, they seek us out. We, in turn seek them out. It’s a cycle. They help us, even when we don’t ask. So we help them, even when they don’t ask. We pray for each other. Responding to their fervent friendship makes a deeper connection both ways.
Christians in the Church do two things that unwittingly make them fall into lazy, meaningless, friendships:
1. Don’t think it’s weird when you don’t say goodnight.
We have regular Sunday services, Sunday school, small groups, Bible studies, mommy’s groups, men’s breakfasts, et al. There is so much structured time to expect to see someone that you don’t have to make an effort.
So someone in the congregation can just stop showing up and next thing they have missed eight services and three potlucks before most anyone has noticed or cared enough to say something. Most if the time, people are simply waiting for the missing person to return and to ask them where they’ve been.
But, if nothing was wrong, wouldn’t you be there? If you had other things, wouldn’t people know? Why would you leave without a word?
2. Are notoriously over scheduled.
With all the busyness of church life, who has time to worry about friends? You need to get to that planning meeting, that Bible study, that home group, or choir practice. You don’t have time to check in with your friends, even if they ask you to. You are simply too busy. But all too often this is a kind of religiosity, wherein one has a relationship with an organization rather than with the people in it. Doug and I have reached out so many times and been brushed off because people were too “busy”.
How many of us have been on both sides of this; feeling forgotten or forgetting?
We end up under the covers hoping someone will notice we’re gone, but they don’t or they do and don’t hunt for us.
My Christian friends weren’t being cold, they were being lazy and I’ve done the same. My friends who aren’t Christian just didn’t have a schedule of weekly events at which to expect me, so of course they had to come calling.
Start being a good friend not just a “Good Christian”. Start seeing your Christian friends outside the Church box. Stop just expecting people to be places. Make sure you know what is happening in the lives of people you care about. It sounds elementary, but how often is it the basics that are forgotten?
After His last meal with His disciples Jesus said to them,
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35 ESV
Jesus chose to command His disciples to love each other so well that it would be an identifier. This isn’t just another way we fall short, this is a deep issue in the Church. If we can’t love each other, who can we love?