I feel like most people that read the title of this post or even voted for it on Instagram (yes, I did that) thought it might be taking a different route. I’m not addressing the lies all your girlfriends have told you and how to get back at them. I’m not trying to stir up drama and hate between you and a person you might have in mind when you read, “Friends & Lies”. I didn’t want to vent about all the times my friends have lied to me or I lied to them. I wanted to address the lies that our culture tells us about love and how that affects our relationships.
Our culture tells us that love is easy. Love is simple. It tells us that we can love anyone however we might choose. Love is human. Love is love (whatever that is supposed to mean). Love is an open door. Just Google, “Love is”, and you’ll find a billion definitions.
But the truth is, love is not easy. It’s just not. We’re sinful. We’re broken and we’re selfish. Our human nature is not love; it’s actually the opposite. We are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2: 1-3). And loving someone is not simple. Our sin makes selfless and authentic relationships hard. Our sin makes it impossible to be a good friend apart from Jesus.
I would be naïve to think that anyone reading this, whether you’re a girl in high school or a middle-aged dad, has never been hurt by a friend. I would be even more naïve to think that anyone reading this is a complete innocent victim of a broken friendship. We have all had our share of messy friendships. But we all have and still do play our own part in the brokenness.
I immediately thought back to high school when I began to recall all my messy relationships. I was so caught up in what people thought of me, especially my friends. I didn’t want to disappoint. I wanted to impress. This desire to impress just lead to gossiping and lying and bitterness. I desperately wanted approval so I trash talked the people I considered friends. I would fashion the smallest of lies just to feel accepted by friends. Bitterness towards friends only grew stronger as I fought for my approval. And no matter how many friendships my sin ruined, I kept doing it! No matter how many times I would accidentally send a text filled with trash talk and gossip, to the girl I was gossiping about (this happened more often than you would think), I kept on. My relationships revolved around comparison, judgement, and jumping to conclusions. I kept trying to grasp this unrealistic and worldly view of friendship.
The summer after my Freshman year of college, God captured my heart. He brought me into his family and He called me to the same radical love that saved my sinful soul. The same love that brought the dead to life, He commands all His children to follow. He commands me to love.
“Jesus answered, “The most important, ‘Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater than these.”
This was Jesus’ response when asked what the greatest commandment was. He commands us to not only love Him with every single piece of us but to also love our neighbors. Wow. I mean, how in the world can a filthy sinner like me love the creator of all things with my whole heart and soul and mind and strength?
The only way to love God and love our friends and love our neighbors with this radical and counter-cultural love is GOD. If we want to be good friends we must have Jesus. Despite what our culture says, there is no other way to love. We can’t create our own meaning and love whoever however. We can’t rely on the simplicity of love because that’s just not love. The scripture talks about a love that was nailed to the cross. A love that was persecuted and killed. A love that is endless and abounding. A love so sweet and pure that it’s hard for our human hearts to fully understand.
But, this wasn’t a truth I could immediately embrace. It’s not like I became a Christian and God immediately gave me the knowledge and strength to reconcile broken relationships and to love all my neighbors. It has taken years of spending time with the Lord, learning from my mistakes, and trying to be a friend to learn the importance of this radical kind of love.
And still, I don’t know if I could honestly call myself a “good friend” to anyone. I constantly put myself above others and even God. The Lord has done a work in my heart and life, oh believe me, but gossip just took another form as I got older. More problems and more opportunities for sinful friendships arose. It’s easier for me to immediately think the worst of friends instead of fighting to think the best of them. It’s easier for me to forget who the real enemy is and dress myself in worldly attire rather than the armor of God. It’s easier to fear what others think of me instead of fearing the Lord.
It’s hard to live a counter-cultural life that’s defined by this radical love. But praise Jesus that He made it possible through his death and resurrection. Let us praise him through our messy friendships and turn to Him for reconciliation as He mends our hearts back to Him.