So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. -Genesis 1:27
This Thursday night is girls night. I reach out to my friends to see if anyone is available to spend some girl-time together and no response. 24 hours go by and still I hear nothing. I’m a little hurt and the enemy begins to put thoughts in my head.
“Maybe nobody likes my idea to go get ice cream.”
“Maybe everyone has decided I am boring.”
“Maybe my friends aren’t really that great after all.”
Instead of being RATIONAL, I decide there must be something wrong with my friends. They aren’t loyal enough, they aren’t available enough, and they certainly don’t “get” me as much as I thought they did. Isn’t community meant to be about my self-fulfillment?
We kind of laugh when we read the sentence above because we know community wasn’t made to fulfill our every need but, we often treat our friends like they should. When our friends have disappointed our expectations, we decide to pursue a new friendship that’s novel and exciting, unknowingly submitting ourselves to a shallow cycle of friending people without building deep friendships. We are waiting for the one friend that just “clicks” perfectly with us.
So, how are we to break this cycle of feeling unsatisfied in our friendships?
Genesis 1:27 says that we were made in the “image of God.” We are made to reflect God who is in perfect community with Himself; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, it’s natural to crave this relationship that God enjoys perfectly: a deep communion that is fully satisfied in relationship. Unfortunately, we reflect God but we aren’t God. We can’t be community all by ourselves, which is why God called us to be in community: to reveal God’s character to one other.
Since we are all made to reflect God, we should see and celebrate the qualities of God in our friends.
We should adore our friends, showing them deep love and respect, by adoring the God who made them.
It is so much easier for me to see all the ways my friends don’t live up to my ridiculous expectations. It’s harder for me to take the time to see God in them, but that is exactly what God wants us to do. We further His mission of making Himself known by intentionally seeing Him in the lives of others. After all, “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)
So, when you have difficult friendships or you feel dissatisfied with your co-worker, husband, roommate or mother, remember that God is not dissatisfied with them. When we find ourselves looking for God’s nature in other people, we’re better equipped to repel the lie that our community is meant to satisfy our every need. The conversation redirects from being “I” and “they” focused to “we” and our mutual love for the Lord in each other. Seeing God in our current friendships stretches our capacity to love others in spite of the ways we differ. And, more importantly, it grows our adoration of God as we see His character lived out in the lives of His people.
When things get tough, when friends hurt our feelings, or when the friendship seems to demand more than we expected, remember to look for God. If each person is made to reflect God, He has a purpose for them as part of the body. We need them. They need us. Those friendships may not make sense to the world, but they make sense to us. The world is looking for friends who make them feel good—we are looking to display more of God and calling those qualities out as excellent and praise worthy.
What does seeing and celebrating the qualities of God in others look like? I am a big encourager and I find so much joy in not only recognizing the surface level good in them but the character of God in them. How much more encouraging can we be, then, to see God moving and working in them? This gratitude can be expressed in prayer, in gifts, in showing up to help them move or ask them to spend time with you. “Hey, I wanted to let you know that the way you are a mother to your children constantly reminds me of the compassion God has for all of us. You are so good at reflecting God’s quality of compassion and I learn so much from you.”
Don’t reject your community when they don’t satisfy your every whim. Turn to God and ask for open eyes to see Him in your friends. There is so much fullness in the community that God has already given you.
Why do we need community?
When you have difficult friendships, what’s your first response?
How would your worship be more full if you recognized God in your friendships?
Spend time in prayer and ask God to reveal a friend that may be needing this extra encouragement. Then model how great your God is by encouraging their ability to represent God to the community. Do it! Right now!