You’ve got a friend in me.

Hey guys–happy February. Not sure how this month is almost over but it is! I’m working on some blog posts for this year that are a little less update and a little more what God is teaching me. These lessons are playing out in ministry all over the city and I have seen them first hand in my life so I wanted to share some of them with you. Here’s the first one.

Friendship. (one of my favorite words!)

Following Christ requires relationships. It’s one of my favorite things about being a Christ follower; we get to share our lives with others! Many of those relationships are fun and life-giving but others are a bit more complicated—co-workers who are difficult to work with, family members who stir up conflict, and neighbors who aren’t very neighborly. Jesus taught us a lot about navigating relationships and here are a few things we can learn from His interactions with others—

*Always respond with truth.
This is a hard reality about relationships. We must be honest with those we care about even when it’s difficult. The truths Jesus shared with others during His ministry were not always well received but He spoke them nonetheless.

*Be direct and authentic.
Jesus didn’t butter people up with flowery language. He spoke the truth directly. We are called to do the same. Authenticity builds genuine, caring relationships even in the most difficult situations.

*Use any opportunity to share your message.
Jesus took advantage of every opportunity the Farther gave Him. Everyday we are given opportunity to take our life-changing message to those around us. Intentionally seek these opportunities and respond with the hope and joy Christ gives you daily.

*Choose people over tasks.
In the story of the Samaritan woman, Jesus was on his way to Galilee. He had somewhere else to be but knew the Samaritan people were too important to pass up. Relationships should always trump tasks. This is particularly hard for our human nature. We are busy people. We like to get things done. While choosing people over tasks can be difficult its a very rewarding decision.

*Be compassionate.
Jesus was often weary, physically hungry, and tired, but he chose compassion for others over immediately meeting his own physical needs. One of the greatest gifts we can provide others is the gift of compassion, a helping hand in times of trouble or a kind word after a long difficult week.

*Be an initiator.
Jesus didn’t wait for His followers or others to ask, He took the initiative to their lives. I’ve never had a close relationship that didn’t require work. Take initiative whenever possible to build strong, healthy relationships. Invite a coworker to lunch, ask a neighbor to go on a walk, etc.

*Experience communion in true friendship.
Throughout Christ’s ministry we see true and authentic connection with His disciples. Verses like John 15:15 show us how much Christ cared for His companions. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends…” Truly investing in others’ lives can be tricky but it’s worth it. Authentic connection with other believers strengthens faith, and friendship with non-believers gives opportunity to share the gospel through word and deed.

(Read John 3: 1-21, John 4:1-26-42 to see these things played out in Jesus’ relationship with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and his disciples.)

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