“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
There is a famine of healthy relationships in Western culture. Many people I encounter inform me that they are too busy. They wish they had more time for family and friends, but feel overwhelmed by the demands of life. I hope we can be intentional about developing healthy friendships.
The level of friendship is high in the Umudugudu or “village” surrounding Hope Haven Rwanda. As you bounce along the dirt road to our campus, there are groups of friends gathered together. There are children playing with schoolmates. There are customers interacting with local vendors. But my favorite scenes are deep conversations and broad smiles between close friends.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the friends that God has brought into my life. Some of them are “closer than a brother.” I am grateful that if I became the average of my five closest friends right now, I’d be a good and godly man.
Someone once shared some key insights about friendship with me.
First, maintaining deep friendship requires frequent contact. In many African contexts, life is more communal than it is in other parts of the world. Village life is not very private. There are fewer garage doors to close and less opportunity for people to “hide.” This leads to regular contact and frequent interactions with neighbors.
If you only connect with someone once every year, it is hard to say that you are close friends. If you connect with someone five times every week, you have an opportunity for an excellent friendship!
Second, the depth of our relationships with anyone correlates to the depth of our shared beliefs. If we have many shared values with someone, we will experience a deeper connection. If we have fewer shared values with someone, our friendship will likely be shallow. This is why we should experience profound connections with our Christian family. We should share love and authentic relationships that are out of this world!
Tommy Nelson explains it this way. If you are racing toward Jesus, and you look to your left or right and see someone who is keeping pace with you in your pursuit of God, that is someone you should build relationship with. Like a marathon runner who finds a friend who can run at the same pace, for the same distance, you will find someone who can share the journey alongside you.
Are you making relational investments today that will lead to the deep friendships you want tomorrow?
As believers, we should be the best friends ever, filled with genuine love that makes Him and others happy!