Friendship isn’t Exclusive: Embracing Jesus’ Model for Friendship

As women, we often struggle with friendship. We crave the feelings of being seen, known, and understood. Desiring to have another woman who can be counted on to walk beside us in the mundane and pivotal moments, we search for this type of friend. We may often stop and evaluate, “Do I have any of these friends in my life?”

We are asking the wrong question.

Did you get it? We so easily go down the list in our heads, trying to find a perfect friend match. Then, in our mental search, we feel defeated when we can’t seem to find anyone that measures up.

It’s time to rephrase the question.

Instead of asking, “do I have any friends like this?”, we need to be asking, “Am I a friend like this?”

Jesus didn’t have any qualifications for friendship. He made himself available to people in all walks of life and certainly not only those who had exuberant good influence. People were drawn to Him. They felt safe. They weren’t judged. Hope was on the horizon as people participated in life-giving communion with Him. Godly friendship stretches through all boundaries and reaches all people. This type of friendship might be considered inconvenient, worthless, and even foolish to the world. Current society screams from all angles the importance of putting your own needs and desires first, but the hearts of the women around you are deep wells just waiting to be filled with the living water of Christ.

You can be a friend to your mom, your sister, your childhood best friend, the cashier who just checked you out, the woman sitting alone at church, the mom you see with her kids at the park, the lonely teen girl in your neighborhood, your elderly neighbor, the woman struggling with drug addiction, the recently divorced mom of three, the girl who just got an abortion, the college student who is crumbling on pressure, the twenty-something struggling with self-esteem, the woman caught in sex-trafficking and the porn industry, the woman in your small group who is crippled by anxiety, the widow who sits in the front row, the single woman feeling discontent, or the woman who looks like she has it all together on social media.

Here are a few key points about friendship that Jesus displayed in His life here on earth and some practical applications for our own lives

1) His love for others was never dependent on what they could provide in return.                

His main heart focus was loving them genuinely, despite their ability to reciprocate. He tells us in Luke 6:27-36 to “do good to those who hate you”, “pray for those who abuse you”, and to “love your enemies”, “expecting nothing in return.”

Practical: Send a loving card, note, or text to a woman who has never taken the initiative to reach out to you first. Reach out to her and ask intentional questions about her life, providing her the encouragement of your loving presence, truly not assessing whether or not she is able to be this type of loving support for you.

2) He never ignored others’ sin and darkness, but through relationship, fellowship, friendship, and trust, He desired to draw them towards salvation.                                            

He always had a position of love and inclusion. He pursued depth with the woman at the well, while she was still entangled deeply in darkness. He made her feel known and seen when all others cast her out and questioned His ways (John 4). Jesus also showed this kind of all- consuming love in His interactions with the woman caught in adultery. Everyone else involved labeled her “dirty” and worthy of death, but Jesus loved her in that moment, while also empowering her to choose the path of life from that point forward (John 8).

Practical: Look for opportunities to mentor younger girls and women, particularly those that don’t know the savior or are entrapped in darkness and sin. Set the scene for honest conversations to take place and become a valuable and trustworthy resource for other girls to glean Godly wisdom and truth from. Invest your time and energy into a girl whose soul is thirsty. This might look like showing up to her soccer game or chatting over cookies, but make the time. Verbally call out her strengths and gifts while lovingly pointing her toward Christ.

3) He empathized and met others in their struggles.                                                                    

i’ll He displayed raw emotions when Lazarus passed away and mourned with those around him. Scripture says in John 11:33 that Jesus was “deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.” (John 11)

Practical: Make a meal for a sister who has just had a baby or lost a loved one. Sit in silence with a friend when there are no words to say, offering the gift of presence.

4) He was intentional about setting aside time for everyone to foster community and deepen relationship, regardless of the shameful boxes others might place them in. 

He pursued Zacchaeus  and initiated wanting to spend time with him, even though all others put him in a category of isolation and hatred. He paved the way for quality time together. Zacchaeus was moved by Jesus’ intentionality and kindness in such a way that he was called to action, restoring past sins he had committed. (Luke 19) Jesus also pursued this radical type of community when scripture mentions that He and His disciples “reclined at the table” with “tax collectors and sinners.” (Mark 2). He purposefully placed Himself in situations with broken people. What is noteworthy about this particular instance is that not only was Jesus Himself participating in this radical type of community, but He was also encouraging others (in this case His disciples), to follow His example. He could have dined alone, but He instead included His disciples.

Practical: Hospitality, Hospitality, Hospitality. This is so important in the life of a believer. True heart transformations often happen nestled in a cozy living room with coffee. Invite a hurting sister into your home. In fact, invite all kinds of women into your home. This is where raw gospel conversations will take place. Through making people feel welcome and loved, salvation often follows. This does NOT have to look pinterest-worthy with candles and pier 1 decor. God will honor your heart and the simplicity of the act of welcoming. Be careful not to only invite those within your comfort zone.

5) He had a group of closer friends that He consistently did life with (his disciples).

 These specific friends were able to see into the hidden spaces of His heart in ways others weren’t allowed in. This was a set-a-part group of individuals that Jesus got to the deep stuff with. He appointed them and called them out to boldly follow Him, but He also showed us friendship worth emulating. In John chapter 15 Jesus calls His disciples His friends and challenges them to “lay down their lives” and “love one another.” This lets us know that having other Godly friends is important and life-giving. Although friendships with other believers are vital to a walk with Christ, they are certainly not the only friendships that Jesus desires for us to participate in. However, a friendship between two believers is a starting point to further the gospel.

Practical: Don’t remain in hiding. Take the step to reach out to other strong believers. Network with your church community and other Christ-filled sisters. Offer love and friendship to other believing friends, but also break down the walls in your own heart and be receptive to their efforts towards you.

Wife to Simon and mama to Theodore Samuel. Hannah began her walk with Christ at age 17 and He is radically reshaping her world daily. She find so much joy in coffee cup conversations with other women at her home, serving alongside her husband at our church’s middle/high school youth group, exploring new cities, cozy days with a book, decorating/reorganizing, filling journals with brightly-colored pens, hand-writing notes on pretty stationary and time at the beach.