Should I Be Making Friends?
Beginning with John 15:18, Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” This statement gives comfort to those who are being rejected by their peers for their dedication to Jesus, but does it mean that Christians need not worry about trying to make friends?
Jesus’ life answers this question. Jesus recognized the hatred of the world toward Him, but He still approached people compassionately. Consider these passages:
“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
“Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied.” (Matthew 14:19-20)
Jesus approached people compassionately and desired a good relationship with them. He healed their sick and provided for their needs as He was able, while at the same time teaching them the truth and calling them to obey God.
Christians must strike the same balance in their approach to people. Compassion must create merciful behavior, which extends both to physical and spiritual needs. As Christians serve physical needs, many friends will be made (cf. John 6:26). As they serve spiritual needs, many of those friends will leave (cf. John 6:66). Relationships fill every part of Christian life: some short, some long, and some eternal.
While becoming popular is not the goal of Christians, good relationships are inevitable when we approach souls the way Jesus did. If everyone you meet hates you, your approach may need more compassion. If everyone likes you and conflict never arises in your friendships, look for spiritual needs you may have left unaddressed, and become a compassionate, spiritual servant like Jesus.