I'm currently reading the book of Job and have looked at Job's conversations with his friends. I find them interesting to say the least. For those who don't know, Job literally lost everything in a few "freak" events all within a single day; his family (except for his wife--I'm not gonna comment on that) and all his stuff (and he was a very wealthy guy) were all taken from him in one day. Then, his health went and he was infected with sickness like most of us have never seen. For him...life pretty much sucked at this point.
Then his friends come along. Their actions fascinate me. They lecture him. The first one tells him to talk, yell and scream at God to find out why this is happening. His second friend says his family must have sinned for God to have caused their deaths and then proceeds to say how much God hates sinners and how their lives amount to nothing. Finally, the third friend tells Job that it's his fault. These things happened because of Job's own iniquity and sin.
Seriously, folks, that's what I call friendship. (I'm being sarcastic, in cased you missed it.) When Job is in his greatest time of need, his friends give him lectures and beat him upside the head. Has anyone else ever experienced this? Has anyone else besides me actually been one of those friends?
What Job needed was his friends to come along side him. He needed eyes to cry with him. He needed arms to embrace him. He needed physical reminders of God's love and faithfulness, not mouths that condemned and tongues that lashed out.
The same is true for us and our friends. There come times when we do stupid things and must face the dire consequences of those actions. We do not need to be blasted, but to be held and loved. Will there come a time when we need to be set straight? Yep, but it's not when we are reeling from the shock and pain of the situation.
I have a friend whose brother attempted suicide a little over two years ago. When she told the small group she went to about it and about her concern that he was not a believer, the study leader said that if it was God's will for her brother to live and be a Christian, he would. He then told her to stop worrying about it. She didn't need that. She needed her community of friends and family to come along side her, love on her, and hold her up during this situation. She knew everything was in God's hands, but didn't need to be reminded of it then.
I don't think I have friendship fully figured out and I don't pretend to. I know that to act as Christ does to my friends, though, is the first step in the learning process. May we each do that and think how Christ would act in a situation before we open our mouths.
I love Job's response to his friends. He said, "My bad, guys. I forgot that y'all know everything. When you die, so will your wisdom." I think Job would have rather had friends come along side with him and mourn with him instead of sitting through three different lectures. Let us be more willing and ready to love than to lecture. In the same token, let us not be so unloving that we are not willing to confront our friends when they are being stupid. It's a balance that only can be done in the Father's wisdom, Christ's love and the Holy Spirit's power.
until Christ is formed in us...