Today we’re back to the Friends & Christianity series with episode seven of season one, The One with the Blackout. While there were many good moments in this episode, one stuck out to me:
Friends understand us when no one else does.
During the blackout, Chandler is stuck in an ATM vestibule with a supermodel. She lends him her cell phone so he can call his friends to let them know he is okay. Monica answers and Chandler tries to tell her in a strange, muffled voice who he is with, but Monica doesn’t understand him. So Chandler tells her to put Joey on. Not only does Joey understand everything Chandler says, he speaks back to Chandler is the same muffled way and Chandler understands him perfectly.
This level of understanding doesn’t happen with all friends. Monica didn’t understand Chandler though they knew each other longer than Joey and Chandler. However, Joey and Chandler have a more close an intimate relationship. They are roommates and they are also close friends. They hang out and spend most of their time together.
My husband and I are the best of friends. Though I’ve known many people longer than him, we spend the most amount of time together. At this point, I know what he’s thinking before he speaks and vice versa (okay, well, usually but not all the time). Sometimes we need to tell each other something but we’re in the middle of brushing our teeth, so we speak in a garbled language (like Joey and Chandler) but I understand him and he understands me.
So what does any of this have to do with faith? The Christian faith is all about relationships. Firstly, our friendship with Christ; and also our relationship with everyone else friend, family, stranger, or enemy. It is up to us what degree of intimacy we want to build with Christ. When we first profess our faith and ask Him into our hearts, he comes and resides with us. He is with us all the time. However, we can live with someone and never know them if we just co-exist and don’t invest in the relationship. Joey and Chandler weren’t just roommates, they talked, took care of each other, played together, helped each other, and did just about everything together because they enjoyed each other’s companionship. If we want a friendship with Christ that is deep enough that we understand Him even when he speaks in a weird, garbled language, then we need to not only reside with him but to get to know him. Talk to him. Read his words. Walk through each day with him by our sides.
When people say, “God spoke to me…” or “God showed me…” usually what they mean is that they have grown to understand God in a deep and intimate way. Not that God spoke out loud, but that they felt God’s leading in someway. Sometimes it is like a whisper in your thoughts. Others it is a nudge in your heart. But the more you do your life with God, the more you’ll understand him.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. ~ John 10:27 ESV
Jesus compares himself to a good shepherd, and those who follow him to sheep. Sheep rely fully on the direction of the shepherd. They trust him to defend and care for them. They trust that where he leads will be good for them, and so they follow. Since he spends all his time with them, they know his voice intimately and can discern between his and another voice.
If we want to know Jesus in a deep and intimate way, all we have to do is live our lives with him. Keep an open line of communication to him throughout the day. Pray without ceasing, as they say. Not that you keep your head bowed and eyes closed all day. Rather think of it as having an all day text conversation with him. Every once in a while, you send a message up; and throughout the day you wait and listen and keep your eyes open for his messages. And you seek to know all you can about him (because he already knows everything about you) by reading the book that is all about him, the Bible. It is that simply but, of course, not easy. But we’re fandom people, we don’t do easy. We do what is right and hard and worth it. Being a friend of Christ is all of those things and more.
Bonus: Phoebe is the last to know everything
Sometimes our friends will hurt our feelings, but…
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. ~ Proverbs 27:6 NLT
In all relationships, we are going to feel hurt at times. But that comes with intimacy. You know your friendship is real after that first disagreement or wound. If your friendship heals and becomes stronger than before, you are building a real, intimate relationship. No one is perfect. In order to have deep intimacy in our relationships, we must have an abundance of forgiveness and grace to extend.
Phoebe felt hurt by her friends telling her everything last, but had she left because of this slight she would have missed out on years of love and support.
It is better to be hurt by a true friend, than to receive fake kindness from someone who won’t be there when things get tough.