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Posts Tagged ‘test of true friendship’

Something happened on Facebook recently that distressed me.

One of my friends – a good friend, I thought – became Facebook friends with one of my enemies.

This “enemy” wasn’t someone that I despised, but someone who, let’s just say, is not one of my biggest fans.

Why was I concerned?

Because I didn’t want my “enemy” to influence my friend to stop being friends with me.

You ask, “Jim, that doesn’t happen among Christians, does it?”

Oh, yes, it does … and it’s happened to me a lot over the past few years.

How does this happen?

It’s simple.  Pastors … no matter how hard they try … make some enemies.

Those enemies have friends in the church … and the pastor is often friends with those same people.

A pastor’s enemies are usually vocal.  They’re always trying to explain why they don’t like the pastor … or why they don’t attend their church anymore.

Let me give you an example.

Nearly 20 years ago, a woman demanded that I do something for her, and when I resisted, she went ballistic on me.

She told many people how unhappy she was with her pastor, including a newer believer who was gearing up to start a vital ministry.

The newer believer quit coming to church.  When I went to her house, she refused to come to the door … and her whole family left en masse soon after that.

A friend had now become an enemy.

This kind of thing happens all the time in churches.

Someone is unhappy with the pastor … spreads their discontent to others … and usually finds someone who takes their side.

What do you do when a friend and an enemy become friends?

Do you “unfriend” your friend on Facebook and never speak with them again?

Do you distance yourself from your friend and think, “If you want to be friends with that person, then we are no longer friends?”

Do you contact your friend and demand that he or she “unfriend” your enemy?

These sound like responses an 11-year-old girl would make … but not a mature believer.

Over time, I’ve learned three important lessons about friends befriending enemies:

First, it’s okay for your friends to be friends with your enemies.

I don’t want anyone telling me who I can and can’t have as a friend … and I need to extend that privilege to others.

There are people that I don’t like but my wife adores.

There are people that I like that my wife can’t stand.

And there are people that my friends like who don’t like me.

It is possible for someone to be friends with you and friends with your enemy without being unduly influenced by either party.

This happens to many of us when two friends separate and divorce.  We don’t take one side or the other … we remain friends with both individuals.

We must allow our friends the same courtesy.

Second, real friends stay loyal to you.

If Joe (an enemy) tells Judy (your friend) that you’re a no-good-so-and-so, and Judy ends up siding with Joe, Judy may drop you as a friend.

But what kind of friend was Judy if she’d abandon you like that?

But if Joe tries to persuade Judy that you’re no good, and Judy ends up defending you, Judy has proven to be a faithful friend.

Let’s say that a pastor leads a congregation of 500 people and that he assumes all 500 people are his friends.

But then a rumor flares up that the pastor has stolen money from the church … a rumor that’s totally false … but a rumor some people pounce on to say, “Let’s get rid of the pastor.”

The pastor may think to himself, “Okay, maybe I’ve lost a handful of friends, but 480 people are still loyal.”

But the accusation … whispered through the church … may result in the pastor losing several hundred friends … and even his position.

That’s when the pastor finds out who his real friends are.

Like all pastors, I’ve been accused of various wrongs over the years, and it’s hurtful to watch people I thought were friends walk away … often for good.

But I’ve also discovered that many people have vigorously defended me, even when it’s cost them friendships.

Those people are your real friends.

Finally, your friends may eventually have to choose between you and your enemy.

I have a good friend who was also friends with one of my enemies … although I didn’t know he was my enemy at the time.

Anyway, whenever my friend and my “enemy” got together, the “enemy” delighted in running me down.

Finally, my friend had had it.  He told the “enemy” to stop running me down … and when he wouldn’t stop … my friend stopped being his friend.

I don’t like having enemies.  I don’t want to hate anybody … a response I can control … but some people have chosen to hate me … a response I can’t control.

And when I hear that a friend and an enemy have gotten together, it makes me a little bit nervous.

But we all have to learn to trust people, and to believe that our real friends will defend us and support us no matter what our enemies might say.

I didn’t like most of the music from the late Seventies, but I did like this song by the late Andrew Gold – his only real hit – called Thank You For Being a Friend (otherwise known as the theme to The Golden Girls TV show).

And I dedicate this song to all of my real friends … and want you to know how much I appreciate and love each one of you!

(Choose the first song in the top left corner … and skip the ad.)

https://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=AiyyiGzjjtBgG6oYMxz1f8ybvZx4?fr=yfp-t-901-s&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&p=andrew%20gold%20thank%20you%20for%20being%20a%20friend%20youtube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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