Friends like Us?

By Not Known

It is natural to make friends with people like ourselves. The people who are most
like us may be the people we most like. And so we often form friendships within
our own demographic of age, race, gender, educational level, interests,
personality and such like. These friendships are ‘easy‘ and tend to be self-
reinforcing of who we are.

A particular form of ‘friends like us‘ is when most of our friends are also
Christians. Our shared faith gives a meeting point that crosses other differences
and bolsters our own faith – but it may keep us from friendships with people who
don’t share our faith in Jesus.

It can be hard to cross barriers to form friendships. A thousand misunderstandings
and awkward moments await us as we draw close to someone who is not like us
Sometimes it seems easier to stay within the comfort zone of ‘friends like us‘.

Friendships that cross barriers offer opportunities for enrichment. As we share
one another’s world our horizons are stretched, our preconceptions are
challenged, our people skills grow and we are enhanced as human beings. And
we have the opportunity to be useful for God.

John 4 tells of Jesus creating a cross-cultural friendship in the service of the
gospel. His new-found friend differed in gender, race, religion and needs. He was
male, Hebrew, of Jewish faith, single, and thirsty for water. She was female
Samaritan, of mixed religion, maritally muddled and thirsty for life’s meaning.
About all they had in common was to be in the same place at the same time.

Jesus persisted in friendship.

After he established a bridge (thirst and water) he proceeded to cross it into the
world of her troubled life, showed insight and sympathy and then led her through
to a new understanding and response to God. Their meeting ended with her
testifying to her fellow-Samaritans about Jesus and many of them also came to
faith (Jn 4:39-42).

Who are you friends with? If they are alt ‘friends like us‘, are you being held back
from the enriching possibilities of ‘outside‘ friendships? If all your friends are
Christians, are you missing out on opportunities to share your faith in Jesus, in
the natural way that friends share their lives with one another?