I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. – Philippians 3:8
Think back to when you were a child. What did you do for fun? What games did you play? What songs did you listen to? Did you run with a crowd or were you more content with just a best friend? Did you ever get in trouble together?
I remember dancing to Donny and Marie Osmond at my girlfriend’s house. We dressed up like rock stars and belted out “I’m a little bit country. I’m a little bit rock-n-roll,” over and over. I also remember getting into huge trouble when my friend Skipper and I flooded his kitchen floor. We were actually just trying to help his mom by cleaning up a bit. Who knew you couldn’t use “dish soap” in the dishwasher? (It still makes no sense to me…) When we came back and discovered we’d created a giant bubble maker, it only made sense to use it as a Slip N’ Slide. Boy, did we have a blast…until our moms came home and found us, and most of the kitchen, covered in soapy water.
I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships because every September, my Bible Study creates new small groups. Each group has the same goal: to know God and each other more, and grow in their faith. We shorten it by saying, “We come together to know and grow.”
That motto sounds great, but unfortunately we can’t snap our fingers and make it happen. I’ve learned over the years that to be truly known, whether in a small group, or one on one as a friend, takes time, effort, and vulnerability. We have to be real with each other in order to form friendships. And that’s risky.
I recently wrote this in a 3:00p.m. message, “Honesty is bravery in action. Fake smiles and closed hearts leave us lonely and exhausted. When you’re vulnerable and honest, relationships grow. Be real. It’s worth the risk.”
Do you agree? I do. Here are a few times when I reaped huge benefits from being in a vulnerable relationship.
It was risky when my childhood friend warned me her dad was an alcoholic before I slept over at her house. Instead of scaring me away, it strengthened our friendship, because I realized her family wasn’t perfect either.
It was risky when my friend shared how infidelity had shattered her heart into a thousand pieces. But it was worth it because her raw heart linked ours like sisters. I walked with her through the valley of loss and she walked with me through the roller coaster ride of a high-risk pregnancy.
And it was risky to share with a friend how confused and crazy I’d been in college. But it was worth it when she identified with my shame and lifted my spirits by saying, “Wow, look how far God has brought you!”
When have you taken a risk and exposed the real you? What benefits did you reap? How did your relationship flourish? Now think of just the opposite. How does it feel to spend time with a guarded, distant, or fake “friend”? Yuck, right?
That’s not God’s plan for our friendships. He made us in His image to be in relationship with Him and each other. Relationships are His top priority. Paul knew this truth and shared his heart in Philippians 3:8, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Besides Jesus, Paul was the most influential man in the Bible. He penned over 58% of the New Testament, much of it while locked in prison. Once a persecutor of Christians, Paul had an encounter with Jesus (Acts 9) that changed his life forever. He went from murderer to minister. No longer a prideful man, he’d become a humble servant. No longer in pursuit of division, he worked to unify people across boundaries, just as Jesus had done on earth.
Where did Paul’s strength come from? His relationship with Jesus. Paul placed his relationship with Jesus higher than anything else in the world. Higher than his heritage, education, intelligence, and position of power. To know Jesus more and more was his highest goal in life. That one relationship had a ripple effect that changed all his other relationships as well.
It’s true for us too. As we set out to know Jesus more and link arms with others headed in that same direction, we can expect to become stronger together. Small groups share real life on a weekly basis. Prayers for one another link our hearts and minds. And new friends become sisters. When we’re brave enough to be open and vulnerable, friendships flourish and encouragement flows.
So I ask you, will you be brave? Will you allow others to see the real you? Will you put in the time and effort to know others and be known? I hope you’ll believe with me… the real you is the best you. No more hiding, pretending, or faking. God loves you just as you are. Others will too, when you let them see the real you.
3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES
Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others.
Think of a time you had fun with a childhood friend. What do you remember?
How does it feel when people hide behind a mask or fake being happy? Why does this block friendships from forming?
Think of the benefits we reap when we’re real with others. Why is being vulnerable and real worth the risk?
The Power of Giving God Thanks Will Ignite Your Faith and Change Your World!
Thank You for Being a part of the 3 O’Clock Wake Up Call Movement