When Jesus walked this earth, He befriended many people. In fact, He stopped to talk to outcasts that others would avoid, and He accepted dinner invitations at homes of tax collectors, or the politically unsavoury types. The established upper class did not approve of Jesus' choice of friends.
It was not that Jesus was looking for acceptance and inclusion with the sinners (as many lonely people do even today) - rather, He cared for them and wanted to show love and acceptance to these misfits. Jesus treated them as human beings with feelings and the ability to make choices too.
Jesus could have a deep, earnest discourse on starting life over with Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin (the leaders who made and enforced religious laws). Another day He talked with the Samaritan woman at the well about living water - which astonished her, and His disciples, for Jews generally avoided speaking to Samaritans at all costs. He was a friend to anyone willing to let Him touch their hearts.
I think this is a key friendship lesson for us to learn. We must not look down on anyone for their race or appearance, or any other “oddness” about them that makes them different from ourselves.
If we know who we are before God, and that He has accepted us as we are, and that, as we walk with Him in friendship we are transformed and made more Christ-like in character, then we find it much easier to be gracious to others and to show acceptance and a friendliness for their own sakes, just like Jesus did - and still does.
If we tend to be friendly only towards those who will bless and benefit us we do not yet properly understand friendship and how it is suppose to work. It is suppose to be a two-way street, but it doesn't always start that way.
We need to think more of friendship as something we offer to others as a kindness. Sometimes we are fortunate to get a similar amount of kindness back, but it is not guaranteed. If we can overcome our natural bent toward self- centeredness, and think more about befriending others, no matter who they are, or whether they can reciprocate, we will find that others will approach us and desire a friendship with us.
Of course, if we don't grow mature, and can't maintain our our character well, the 'like attracts like' principle will fall into place by default. That generally means some of them will be bad friends and lead us into becoming sinners. Then we will need a friend like Jesus to rescue us!
Perhaps you are in that lonely pit right now. The few friends you might have are bad ones? You really would like good friends?
Just cry out from the depths of your being to Jesus. He'll be at your side in an instant. Usually He uses human friends who are somewhat like Him for the human touch, so consider accepting the overtures of someone who appears to offer help right about then, especially if it comes with no strings (obligations) attached.
Another thing, turn your back on the bad friends and get some distance between you. Why? Simply because evil friends have claws and they try to keep you in that slimy pit of despair and self-loathing. Cooperate with any new friend who will help you get away into a different circle - one of caring people.
There you will heal and your soul be restored to peace as you grow to know and love Jesus in that circle. If He is not there, make tracks out of there too, and cry out to Him again.
[Note: if you missed any articles in this series of article on Friendships in the Bible, and want to read them, you'll find them all linked from this index which is about Friendship]
My novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, and this related site have a Friendship theme. By getting to know and follow around the heroine, Ruthe, you can learn a lot about friendships, and that there is one that is the golden key to enriching all your other friendships and making them more satisfying. The site is more like a perfumed poupouri of articles and pages on that theme, and I've started a series on the friendships we observe in the Bible and what practical insights we can gain for our own friendships by thinking about them
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Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One
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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada