Tuesday, May 23, 2006

the difference between friends, and Friends

Over the last 7 months, I have discovered that there are friends, and there are Friends. Thank God for Friends.

Some people appear to equate friendship with acquiantance. If I know you, and spend some time with you, we must be friends - so they seem to think. Deeper qualities of faithfulness, honesty, and bravery in face of opposition don't appear to be part of the equation.

Once during the last 7 months, a friend (not a Friend) said, "We make a disctinction between friendship and ministry."

Hmmmmmmm... he's a pastor. The Hebrew word from which we get our word pastor has the connotation of "Friend." I don't know how someone separates friendship and ministry, especially considering the fact that we are leading people toward friendship with God, but unfortunately this is an all too common error in churchlife in America today.

Through our difficulties we have discovered that there are friends, and there are Friends. I can not say enough, "Thank God for Friends." As for the friends I am not sure who to thank for them, but I am not putting in a request for enemies any time soon.

Oh, by the way, Joe made the Friend list a while back. Any advocate against the wave of false information is a Friend. He helped come through in a small way again today. The whole gang at The Gathering has learned the lesson of friendship through these struggles. They are my heroes, and heroines.

Yes, there is real churchlife somewhere, and I am sure it happens among Friends - not friends.


Agent B said...

Oh man, good post.

yes, I've been on this subject of friends (actually, Friends). For over 3 years.

I've noticed that a traditional church life embraces "friends" as oposed to Friends.

Like...when my wife & I were a part of a church, I probably could have gone down the entire church directory and called all 300 people a friend and visa versa. I probably could have called any of them if I were in need.

But step outside that church environment and you quickly see that those friendships were really aquaintences of convenience. Or something like that.

Pastor Phil said...

"Aquaintances of convenience" is giving American churchlife too much credit. Often we will do things which are inconvenient for people who are within our circle, or people who appear to be moving with consistency toward our tight little circle. This kind of behavior is what Jesus refers to when he asks, "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?"

This kind of love which is directed only toward those of likeminded theology, or similar behavior is nothing special, and in fact may have the insidious side effect of appearing manipulative - if in fact it is not highly manipulative.

The cultus of brainwashing religious groups uses such behavior to draw, and to keep people. The development of friends without a committment which models Jesus' "till death do us part" approach is not a godly friendship, and has no reward in heaven, and no great effect in changing people on earth.

If "acquaintances of convenience" were what the church was doing, I could at least call it laziness, and not be too bothered by it, but to see that we have developed an unwritten protocol which only allows help to be administered when certain criteria is matched is a manipulation which the world sees right through. I suppose I see through it fairly well now myself.

Darn, have I got a Paul Bunyan sized axe to grind or what!? ;-)

Agent B said...

Again...very good stuff.

Post on this deeper, if you get the chance.

I've been tinkering with this in my head for a few years, but nothing like what you just said, which is right on the money.

mikeofearthsea said...

I would title the following comment - "learn to take it for the Team" - the team being "Jesus."

How hard it is to follow the example of infinite cosmic power willinging confined with true gentleness (strength and grace, the ability to harm, but not to use it). Not that any lashing out on my part would accomplish anything or stop - in my human way - the machine of injustice. How bizarre it is to be called to the higher standard to pray for the friend (lower case 'f') who turns out to be the enemy/betrayer. And to mean blessing (along with godly corrective 'handing over to satan to be taught not to blashpheme).

Ah - enough ranting. When righteous anger turns to vindictiveness it interferes with my pursuit of holiness and quest for self-control.