How true friendship can transform you

After a student meal, we met next to a fountain and talked about our common paths. We noticed that among the many white students we were both multi-racial.

I met one of my best friends that day.PFollowing our discussions, we discovered that we were both doing theater and even that we had sometimes played the same roles. We loved books, beauty, and participated in the same activities. We were also both staunch Christians. In the midst of all these shared passions, I met one of my best friends that day.

In his book “Les 4 amours”, CS Lewis defines friendship as the moment when two people share the same love. Over time this instant connection evolves into something more. A friendship based on mutual interests is an opportunity to sharpen the interests of the other. You can grow and evolve because of the other person.

This capacity of friendship to transform us makes it a significant part of our life as a Christian. God uses friendship not only to change us but also to make us like him. As Christians we are called to love our neighbor. In friendship, the fact of "having to love your neighbor" becomes much more than a concept. It is staying with a friend when they are depressed after a breakup or when they are happy to have got a new job.

When friends share a deep desire to become like Christ, then those friendships transform and rekindle our virtue. I am more like God thanks to this friend found in college 10 years ago. This is why many churches emphasize small groups. These structures, now common in Christian circles, build relationships among members and produce an effective framework for discipleship.

I recognize that in my life, Christian virtue is more alive thanks to the encouragement of my friends. Some of these friendships were found in small groups… but many were not. Even though churches invest a lot in these small groups they are never an end in themselves. The purpose of these small groups is to enable friendship and a living community that leads to the likeness of Christ. This goal can be achieved inside and outside the local church. Small groups don't transform us, but the pursuit of friendship does.

Friendship, not structure, transforms people.

I admit, sometimes church groups fail to bring people together around common interests, which is the basis of friendship. It can sometimes sound like "forced friendship" for the sake of spiritual growth. In this case, when friendship is not natural it is important to also remember that being a Christian and going to the same local church is a common interest on which we can build a relationship.

Friendship can be born and develop in many contexts other than church groups, it can be in a family, work or even in gatherings of people who are not connected to a particular church, … All of these contexts are no less holy than the church, nor less capable of fostering true friendships that will teach us patience, love, and renewal in Christ.

I called you friends.

Jesus said to his disciples in John 15: “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you all that I have learned from my Father. This closeness and this friendship with Christ transformed a group of ordinary men into a group of people who changed the world (Editor's note: with the help of the Holy Spirit of course). As Christians, imitators of Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are also transformed by our Christian friendships.

Leilani mueller

source: Christianity Today

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