Episode 058 | Because Friendships are Hard

March 21st, 2017

The bible says “bad company corrupts good character” - so how do you find and keep the right friends? Listen in as Pastor Matt talks about friendships, the most dangerous thing to Christianity and the best thing to help a toxic person in your life.

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Summary

How you approach your friendships can dictate a lot about your life, and when you start following Jesus the friends you have will either encourage and direct you toward God or back toward your own desires. How do you know when you need to cut ties with old friends and how on earth do you make new ones?

In this episode, Pastor Matt shares from his own experiences in friendships, from leaving behind the guys he used to smoke weed with to having hard conversations with the friends he’s needed most over the years. The conversation moves from the friend zone to dating and back again and hits on what it can look like to have healthy friendships with people of the opposite sex.

This week’s discussion wraps up with an honest talk about whether or not Jesus would be friends with negative, toxic people and when - if ever - it’s time to just throw in the towel.

Resources

Learn more about how your church can join the Sandals Church family at sandalschurch.com/together

Listen to Pastor Matt's message about competition in relationships

This Week's Topics

Is attending a small or shrinking church just to be a part of the community (even if you don’t like the preaching) the wrong reason for attending church?

While many churches may be stuck in traditional methods that are no longer as effective at reaching new people, commitment and membership at a church should be taken seriously. If God hasn’t told us to leave our church we should continue there and pursue some outside resources for additional growth.

Part of being committed to our church may mean sounding the alarm when things aren’t going well. We shouldn’t threaten or critique our leadership, but we can offer to be of help to get things right. However, if we are attending a church where the sermons have not convicted us in a long time it may be time to move on. Ultimately, church cannot be about us, it has to be about what God wants to do and how he wants to reach new people.

What do we do if we feel like we are losing our faith the more we try to get into it?

Faith is not earned, it is a miracle of God. That is why we cannot connect with God cognitively, we have to connect with him spiritually. Jesus said to Nicodemus “unless a man is born again, he will not inherit the kingdom of God.” We can’t keep doing what we’ve always been doing and expect the results to be different. Paul reminds us in Ephesians that “We are saved by Grace through faith, and this faith is not of ourselves.” While how we feel can change, God does not change. God is in this, so we can cry out to God, and ask him do it within us.

As a new Christian living between two worlds of our old friends and our new Christian friends, how do we navigate our non-Christian friendships without losing them?

When we become Christians there is a divide. Amos 3.3 says “how can two walk together unless they can be agreed?” In any friendship, what brings closeness is time and intentionality, so we should pursue Christian friendships and relationships and know it is going to take time and intentionality.

When it comes to our former friendships, we have to know that until we’re strong enough spiritually, we will likely need to have some healthy distance between us and our old friends as we form new habits. As Jesus said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We can’t be judgmental or super critical of them though, and we should be there for them when they want to come to Jesus. We shouldn’t abandon our former relationships, but we’re never going to make new friendships without releasing some old ones.

How do we navigate friendships with fellow Christians who don’t make church or serving a priority in their life anymore?

The most dangerous thing in Christianity is a casual relationship with Christ. Jesus wants to be first or nothing. As you are pursuing faith, you need to do that alongside others who are doing the same. Stale Christianity is not a safe Christianity and we should step into God’s work at church. Sandals Church asks us to do three things to strengthen our knowledge of and relationship with Christ:

  • Attend church on the weekend
  • Serve on a team
  • Connect with others in a small group

When it comes to friendships, every Christian needs a Paul, a Barnabus and a Timothy in their lives.

  • Paul is a leader and someone who can mentor us.
  • Barnabus is someone who can walk alongside us as a peer.
  • Timothy is someone we can help to lead and mentor in the faith.

Is it okay if our best or closest friend is of the opposite sex?

No, it doesn’t work that way. Instead of asking if something is “okay,” we instead should ask ourselves “is this wise?” Sooner or later intimacy creates attraction. To help protect one another, we should be aware that feelings happen when people of the opposite sex get into one on one relationships and always be upfront about the possibility of dating or not when we hang out with a member of the opposite sex.

It is however, important that singles be friends in groups with both men and women to learn to understand each other. Men should have female friendships in their life so that women can speak truth into their lives, because women see things differently than men do, and vice versa.

When is it time to just let a friendship go?

Often we need to do this more quickly than we think. A real friendships takes two people working towards each other. We should invest in our friendships, cherishing people and making time for them. Mark Driscoll has said there are three categories of friendships:

  • Professional: people who work together, but aren’t really friends
  • Pastoral: a mentor/mentee relationship
  • Personal: A real friendship not based on the other two
Some friendships are based upon a negative commonality such as partying or doing drugs. When we come to Christ we should ask ourselves if the nature of that friendship is now ministry or not. The bible teaches that “the person who tries to change a fool is a fool.”

Would Jesus be a friend to toxic person, and if so what would that look like?

Jesus was friends with sinful people, not necessarily toxic people. The only thing that can help a toxic person is God because he is the only one who can change a human heart. Jesus confronted negative people, he didn’t hang out with them, but he challenged them and spoke truth into them. While Jesus ministered to those who came to him, he was friends with the 12 disciples specifically and only got really close with Peter, James, and John. When it comes to close friendships, we should make sure to protect ourselves from toxic people.

Could it be God’s will for us not to have best friends right now?

God’s will is for us to have close friends, but using the term “best friend” isn’t always good because it can become dysfunctional and self-centered, and it puts too much pressure on a relationship. We should let Jesus be our best friend, because only he can handle the intensity of our needs.

That said, we should still have many good friends, and a few close friends. Friends each teach us different things and bring things out in us that we didn’t see in ourselves. Friendships need to be a rallying point for encouragement, safety and self-ministry, but if we aren’t going out to do ministry together, we will lose sight of our calling.

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