Those I Call Friends
by Ashley Bumgarner
What would it look like if we allowed ourselves to surrender our own agenda and motives for selecting friends? What if we invited God to inspire us? God looks at the things of a man’s heart, but man often look at the things of the carnal mind. I have found myself in this entrapment. I have found self-gratification with those I have associated with. “This person makes me feel better about myself.” “This group makes me feel more important.” “I feel more popular.” “I feel more attractive.” Although we may never have said such things out loud, these thoughts are the underlining of hidden agendas and motives of the flesh. This need for acceptance is rooted when one hasn’t found position in God, but is looking for position in men.
Throughout history, God never chose the strongest, most attractive, most beautiful, most wealthy, or tallest. One of the most incredible examples of this is found in Isaiah 53:2-3 when the prophet was speaking about the coming Messiah:
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”
The most humbling thing is that we are friends of God, and not because we chose Him first. He did not choose us based on our social status, attractiveness, or our amount of influence. He sees us with a different eye. He saw our weaknesses, infirmities, brokenness, and oppression. He sought to mercifully deliver us from such things.
Have you ever approached the unapproachable? Have you ever befriended someone “unpopular”? Have you ever served someone you would call an enemy? God has an incredible plan in our lives. Every step we will encounter people that we like and dislike. The key is: allow God to stretch you. Invite the outsider to your table. Give your time to those that have given you nothing. Comfort the broken-hearted. Draw near to those that the Lord desires. Break the barrier.
Unhealthy friendships are codependent. We must be dependent upon God. We are not to befriend others to seek the fulfillment of our own needs. Rather, we are to lay down our lives for another, trusting God will send us encouragement in the friends He will supply. As we grow in friendships and allow God to stretch our tent pegs, we will find the heart of God.
I remember being at my brother’s funeral. He was 24 when he died in a car crash. I was 19. I recall looking around the room and seeing such a vast array of people. My brother was always “popular.” He was a forerunner and one who inspired others. But I didn’t just see “popular” people at his funeral. There were the elderly all the way down to toddler aged friends. They were different races. They were of different backgrounds. Some were poor, others rich. Some were disheveled without ties and dresses, others were pressed and clothed to the nines. Some were mentally disabled, others esteemed intelligent and successful. I didn’t understand how that could be. But I realized the importance of loving the least of these. There is such fulfillment in befriending those who mere mortal men would exclude. The Lord sees such as these, for they know their sin. Will you choose someone as a friend, even if they never would think to choose you?
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15