I went to a party once where I knew literally every single person there, right down to the chef and servers. I knew everyone, that is, except the couple sitting at my and my husband’s table. At first I was nervous about it, but I decided that “You know what, I’m gonna make a friend tonight!” I know what you’re thinking, “Easier said than done!” I know that I am most definitely a people person. In fact some of my favorite conversations start with the words “Dear random stranger…” I also know that not everyone finds it easy to make a friend. Another thing I know, (wow I’m totally a know-it-all today) is that we are meant to live our lives in relationship with one another so learning how to make a friend and be a friend is really important. If turning a stranger into a friend is a struggle for you then let’s look to the best example for some tips. Let’s look to Jesus.
Even Jesus, perfection walking the earth, knew he needed peeps, partners in life and ministry. So how did he do it? Jesus first started building his posse in Matthew 4. In verse 18 it says the Jesus saw two brothers. He saw something in them that drew him to them. The first example Jesus set for us is to actually SEE people. We live in such a hectic society that’s it’s easy to just overlook people out of busyness, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Slow down. Look around you. Now that you are looking, who do you see? Do you see a woman in the bookstore looking at a book that you just read and loved? Alert! Alert! I sense common ground. Mention to her that it was awesome! I look for common ground and so I find myself talking to people everywhere. The truth is, as much as we pride ourselves on “being different” we actually have a lot in common with people.
In the next verse; V19, Jesus extended an invitation. He said “Come follow me.” A more low key and 21st century friendly term may be, “Hey we should get coffee sometime.” Or maybe “I love your style! Would you come shopping with me for an event I have coming up?” It doesn’t have to be a deep and profound invitation. It just has to basically tell them that you think they are kind of awesome and you’d like to hang out.
The next example Jesus set is that he spent time with his peeps. He didn’t check their status on Facebook or follow them on Instagram. They hung out! They ate together. They traveled together. They shared their lives with one another and we should do the same.
Once Jesus was in relationship with his people he was committed to them. He stuck with them through good times like when he was feeding the masses and curing the sick. He also stood side by side and loved them with an immeasurable amount of love in the bad times; like when Peter denied him, not once, but three times. Regardless of the situation, he loved them and was completely committed to them He chose to see the strength in his squad instead of focusing on their weaknesses, which, let’s be real, were many! In John 14:12 (VOICE) He said “ I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father.” Jesus was not, and is not the kind of friend who brings up mistakes or shortcomings. He’s the kind of friend that sees the diamond in the rough.
The most valuable example of friendship that Jesus set for us, is this: He sacrificed for his friends (and enemies for that matter, but that’s a different blog). John 15:13 (AMP) says “No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.” Jesus literally laid down his life for his friends. It’s unlikely that will be asked of us, but you know what may be asked of us? To lay down our desires; putting someone else’s needs and desires ahead of our own. We may be asked to lay down our pride and apologize. Loving someone, the way we are meant to love our friends, means sometimes choosing to put their needs above our own.
There are few things more valuable then being a good friend, and as it is with anything valuable, it always comes back to Jesus. So the next time you see a potential friend, or a “Dear random stranger” as I like to call them, ask yourself this (and yes, I’m willing to risk the cliché): “What would Jesus do?”