In my last Faith article, I promised to share my thoughts on misunderstandings in Christian friendships. I see that it might be a topic too narrow so I have decided to just go on ahead to write on how to build and cultivate strong Christian friendships.
As we grow and mature in age, we will be surrounded by a lot of people. We will also have different categories and levels of friendship.
How we handle these various kinds of friendships will go a very long way to determine how long they go on for and how healthy they are.
Christian friendships are a very important type of friendship for people who are serious Christians and want to enjoy fellowship.
So, how do you build and cultivate strong Christian relationships?
Understand the need for Christian relationships in the first place
There are reasons why some friendships last longer than others. One of these reasons is understanding what purpose these relationships serve and recognizing their need.
i. You need spiritual support in a world full of snakes and vipers. There is a kind of shoulder a Christian friend can offer in some certain important and delicate situations.
ii. With Christain friends, you can grow exponentially in your walk with God. No Christian can thrive without a bunch of Christian people with whom they can constantly admonish each other. Proverbs 27:17
iii. Christian friendship will allow for spiritual accountability.
When you understand that just as you have siblings, parents, classmates, colleagues, you need Christian friends, it will help you to see that you nurture and cultivate your Christian friendships just as you do others.
Be careful of being co-dependent on them
Some people get too dependent on other people in such a way that they are emotionally invested in them in an unhealthy manner.
Your Christian friendships should not replace a relationship with God. Don’t put emotional pressure on your Christian friends. It only weakens the bond you share.
Leave space for humanity
Christian friends might disagree on certain issues, whether spiritual or otherwise. In fact, it may become intense. This portion of the scriptures accurately describes what it is like when Christians, vibrant Christians for that matter quarrel.
Acts 15: 36-41
36 Sometime later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Settle your indifferences by listening to each other and apologizing. The Bible instructs that we seek peace and pursue it. Ps 34:14 This is one of my mum’s favorite scriptures. She used to use this when we were younger to settle sibling quarrels.
Do not be selfish
It is very easy to be caught in the web of receiving, receiving and receiving. Receiving love, attention, advice, spiritual support etc. This drains relationships in every way.
It doesn’t matter if it is a spiritual based friendship, it has to fulfill many normal relationship requirements to survive and grow strong.
Learn to serve people. Be interested in giving out to your Christian friends. If it seems as though they are better in the word, financially, and in other ways and there looks to be no void, no space to fill, ask them.
Ask your friend, ‘how can I serve you?’
Be as transparent as is reasonably possible
If you have grievances, express them and don’t give the devil the room to rob you of the blessings of friendship.
Also, don’t hide information or be sneaky. It causes ricour in the end. For instance, it is unfair for your friend to know you will be getting married in a week when you already started preparations three months earlier. That’s so wrong.
Be a friend that’s straight, honest and sincere. The clause to this is to be reasonably transparent. You should not go about sharing overly sensitive information about your past for example.
We are human beings, you may go separate ways in the future. Your Christian friendship may go very bad and you might come to realize much later that it was a mistake telling your friend that you aborted for a married man or were once gay. They might turn around on you. The Bible says that a fool says all that is in his heart. Pro 29:11