Fiery Friendships That Change The World

Fiery Friendships that Change the World

The moment that will either make or break a friendship is the moment that one of you decides to share a hard truth with the other — a hard truth about the other.

Like that time a girlfriend phoned to tell me I was out of line with some snarky sass I had earlier shared — snarky sass I had aimed pretty hard at her sister. In my defense, the struggle with her sister was real and hard and messy (still is), and she needed a listening ear. Problem was, my listening ear also came chock full of mouthy criticism toward her sister — meant, of course, as a show of support and solidarity.

{Obviously, I was the model of Christian grace and mercy.}

{No. No I was not.}

The real snag? I failed my friend when she needed me most. You see, all on her own, she was headed down an ugly road where her sister was concerned; she didn’t need my catty comments to force her further into the dark alley of derision. What she needed was someone to direct her out of it: someone to help her see her sister like Jesus sees her sister; she needed someone to help her love {better} her hard-to-love sibling.

Instead, I affirmed her sisterly aggravation and haphazardly added to it. Hearing me disparage her sister {thankfully} awakened my friend’s sense of virtue which led to what we now affectionately refer to as “The Call.”

I say “affectionately” because it was that phone call — with words so difficult for her to say and words so hard for me to hear — that deepened our friendship and widened our respect for one another in ways nothing else could.

She loved me enough to say the hard thing; I loved her enough to listen.

The whole thing reminds me of the tumultuously tender friendship between Jesus and Peter — a friendship tested again and again by Peter’s strong will and wild passion.

Like when, after Jesus had explained to everyone about His imminent death, Peter pulls Him aside for a private reprimand saying, “May God forbid it! This will never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 AMP). Christ’s response? “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on things of man” (16:23).

Ouch.

Then there was that other time when Jesus told His disciples they would all fall away, and Peter, appalled, says, “I never will,” to which Jesus replies, “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times,” and, of course, he did (Matthew 26:33-34).

But here’s the thing: Jesus knew. He knew long before selecting Peter as one of the Twelve that Peter would disappoint, and yet … even though Peter failed Him hard, Jesus clearly counted Peter as one of His closest friends (Matthew 17:1; Mark 5:37; 14:33; Luke 8:51).

And I wonder … what strengthened their friendship? Perhaps it was because Jesus loved Peter enough to say the hard things; perhaps it was because Peter loved Jesus enough to listen. In this sense, their friendship was fueled by failure.

When disappointment strikes our deepest most invested friendships, it is tempting to walk away from {or maybe ignore} the dismay. Honestly, that is the easier road.

But what if, like Jesus {and my sweet friend who made “The Call”}, we faced friendship failures head on, calling them out clearly? And, when we’re the ones called out, what if, like Peter, we loved enough to listen?

Forgiven and restored by Jesus (John 21:15-17) whom he had betrayed and misunderstood, Peter went on to become a pillar of Christ’s church, speaking Gospel truth to the first 3,000 who believed at Pentecost (Acts 2:14, 41).

Sure, some friendships might fall to pieces under such weighty truth and honesty, but those that remain steadfastly unwavering? Those are the kinds of fiery friendships that change the world.

O God, help us to love one another the way Jesus loved Peter that we may develop the kind of friendships that will change the world for You.

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About

Gifted with one beautiful daughter for her tenth wedding anniversary and another for her twentieth, high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom Rhonda Owens is passionate about the Word. She loves nothing more than to study it, talk about it, write about it, apply it, live it and teach it ... all preferably accompanied by deep community and good chocolate. Exploring with husband Mitchell and her two girls is a favorite pastime, and you might find them snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking in a remote corner of God’s world — or simply walking in the woods behind their home in little Bryan, Ohio. Co-author of the book Undivided: A Family Devotional: Living FOR And Not Just WITH One Another , her writing can also be discovered at MitchellAndRhonda.com. Additionally, you can find Rhonda on Facebook, Instagram (rhonda_owens) or at ForTheFamily.org where she contributes regularly.


  • Briana

    I really love this exhortation, Rhonda, and have seen the truth of it in my own life again and again. You are right that there is risk involved and much to learn in the execution of this gracefully but so much to be gained as well. I’ve always found it worth the risk and learning curve!

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Fiery Friendships That Change The World

by Rhonda Owens time to read: 3 min
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