Last night after literally months of toil, my Quizzo team won a $50 bar tab at New Deck Tavern for our first place finish. We were very excited. We were VERY EXCITED. I was also excited because everyone on the team was a stranger to me a few months ago. Making friends is hard and it’s at the core of Circle of Hope‘s strategy for making disciples so it’s worth thinking about for a couple of minutes. We think that Jesus is best revealed incarnationally- as in through our relationships- human to human- flesh to flesh- carne to carne. But when was the last time you made a new friend?
Some of you will say, “yesterday and last week and this morning.” Others will say 5 years ago or college or “I don’t really have that many friends.” I looked at my life about 6 months ago and realized I might have made acquaintances at the “yesterday and last week and this morning” rate but I wasn’t really making very many new actual friends at all. Whatever the reason for our relative isolations (and they are as numerous as we are), we need to get with Jesus in order to overcome our hang ups to meet the next person and expose them to what God is doing in our life together. If you can first get over the hang ups you may have about being intentional to share Christ in your relationships then you might want to get down to business and figure out how to make some new friends.
What I’m thinking we have to do is very practical so I made a list (they happen to alliterate so I’m obliged to title them Practical P’s):
If you do not make time for new people and new environments you will stay in your rut. We are creatures of habit, and though many of our habits are very good, we will have to not do some things in order to the other things we have prioritized. Figuring out how to make time for some new people takes dedication, deal making with family members, and follow through. Make a plan and do the plan. Whatever will be what it was before forever.
Making friends is good for anyone regardless of the reasons. I’m making friends because I want to give people a chance to meet a Christian like me. I also have a desire to be known and to share who I am with people and for them to share that with me. We’re wired for it (me especially). So our prayers are for the fulfillment of our desires as human beings and the fulfillment of our mission as Christians. It’s neat how there’s no need for compartmentalization. We pray because we know that we are only scattering seeds, God makes faith grow. We pray for those who might receive us and we pray that we will have the courage to risk being received and also rejected.
3) Pay attention
Listen to others, see what they are interested in, see where they are hurting and needy. Bless them with your presence. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can perceive what many who are consumed in themselves cannot. I was surprised and subsequently honored by the opportunities I had to listen to my new friends just by making myself available. I’m convinced that we are all much more isolated than we appear from the outside. If we listen and look closely, we will find those who are ready.
It seems we are trained to bounce off of each other. Hanging out at a bar could easily be ephemeral- a fleeting moment of connection. But you can look someone up on facebook, or ask them for their number or email. The tricky part for that for me is that it seems that doing that implicitly expresses a sexual desire in most societal circumstances. Yeah, it’s just weird- we’re weird and we’ll have to get over it and do the weird thing. I think that most people feel locked out in that way though. The opportunities for intimacy are relegated to sexual encounters- and what paltry opportunities most of the time! It’s hard for a lot of people to connect. So blurt it out- the worst thing that happens is that you never see them again, and that was going to happen anyway.