Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Addendum to Imaginary Friendship

One of the things about blogging is that it means more thought goes into the posts than those on Facebook or Twitter (I just don't get Twitter, though).  However, one can still post before totally thinking, or post something that comes across very negative.  The post on Imaginary Friendship might have seemed that way, but I want to add this addendum.

Christians may be afraid to be real and authentic because we live in this in-between world of grace and justice.  We mistake justice for judgment or judgmentalism.  On one side, I think we wonder how much honesty we can take from someone else before we get "discerning" and "prophetic" or "encouraging" or "admonishing." If someone says, "I feel sometimes like God doesn't exist, or doesn't love me, or isn't fair,etc." I have to be honest, my first response is to not take part in this lack of faith, to step away from it, not to go towards it.  I don't want, in my nature, to look in any way that I am complicit in this statement.  And why?  Fear?  of what?  That it will rub off on me?  That I'll be judged for listening to such a conversation?  So I jump to a defense of God (as if He needs it), "No, no, you mustn't feel that way, you are not looking at the Word, etc. etc."  I should know by now that emotions do not succumb to reasonable arguments when we are in the thick of them.  We need something else. 

This is not to say the person should be allowed to wallow in these negative feelings that are coming out as honest expressions (or sometimes, as whiny calls for help).  But when someone else is that honest, how do we respond?  do we want to be friends with such a person?  Are we drawn to them or pushed away?  Do we encourage dishonesty in our so-called friends, our companions in the faith, by expecting them to filter so much that it seems like hypocrisy?  Are we afraid of authenticity and honesty? 

Christians may also be poor friends because of pure selfishness.  Friendship has a high standard in Scripture.  No greater love hath a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  This may be a guy-girl difference, but I have a really hard time imagining laying down my life for my friends.  Probably because I can't imagine a situation where it would be required.  Family members, yes, but if Christianity is anything it is "supra-family."  The old expression "blood is thicker than water" probably is saying "Family is stronger than baptism."  But that is not a Christian teaching.  Now, I am not being asked to sacrifice my life for anyone.  But I am being asked to sacrifice time and effort for them, which is part of life.

Selfishness translates into:  what can I get out of this friendship?  Cost benefit analysis.  And that is not friendship.

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