The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly – John 10:10
Just when we think our friendships are going well, the devil comes and steals our joy away. You may not recognize his schemes but the devil is opposing God’s work in our hearts and our relationships. The devil despises when we gather together because he knows God does amazing good when we are in community.
The disciple John described the devil’s work like this: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (10:10). The enemy seeks to “steal and kill and destroy” the life that we have together in Christ. He whispers lies into our hearts that tell us we are not worthy of friendship, that we have nothing to offer to our communities. He stifles our desire for connection by giving us apathy or isolation.
Yet, God has come so that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” and that includes abundant friendships.
So what are a few of these lies that keep us from experiencing rooted community?
1.We are “fine.”
When friends ask me how I am doing, I typically tell them some version of “I’m fine.” For years I believed that perfectionism was the issue. I didn’t want people to think less of me by admitting that not everything in my life is puppies and rainbows. Now, I think it’s less about keeping a perfect image and more about keeping to myself. As an only child you refine the art of working through things in your head, maybe journaling about them and or sharing them with your mom when needed. My habit is to move through life without the help of anyone else.
This habit of individualism affects our relationships. It’s a lie to believe that we don’t need to share our life with our communities.
It seems like small potatoes in the context of all the ways we succeed on our own, but it’s the fertile ground from which the enemy plants himself between us and our need for God.
The enemy doesn’t want the separation from community to appear as a large, gaping hole too obvious to ignore. He wants it to be a series of small choices that prevents us from depending on God and others to grow closer to Christ. Eventually this is where vague and surface-level friendships flourish.
I love the way Lisa Jo-Baker puts it, “[she] gives me friendship instead of fine.” We all know that we need to be break the habit of settling for “fine” to get to real friendship. Don’t let the enemy keep you in this lie that people don’t care about what’s “really” going on with you. Also, don’t let the enemy keep you in apathy about sharing. Sometimes it just feels easier not to share. That’s typically my excuse. But every time I do, I have a chance to display Jesus at work in me. That’s so much more valuable for God’s community than allowing the enemy to keep me from growing with my friends.
2. We are too busy
A Millennial’s hurdle to friendships—being “busy.” Since when is busy a glorified activity? Our culture is obsessed with productivity and we measure our worth by how much we can accomplish in the shortest amount of time possible. Have you seen your Instagram feed lately? Planners, goals, cute phrases about “getting stuff done.”
Satan uses busyness as a lie to limit us from time-consuming friendships. We don’t think we have time to make new friends: we don’t have that extra ten minutes to call someone back and certainly don’t have time to serve a friend in need. We got things to do, errands to run, lists to cross off. The opportunity cost for relationships is just too high.
Most busy lifestyles are created from a combination of good endeavors: providing for our families, pursuing a God-given dream, ministering to God’s people. However, when we put all these things together, can we accomplish any of them very well?
We know that when Jesus came to visit his dear sister-friends, Mary and Martha, that Martha was caught up in “girl-boss” mode. She’s getting stuff done, she is being the Pinterest hostess by cleaning things up and making things look the best for their guest (Luke 10:38-42). Yet, Jesus is less concerned about the state of the home and more concerned about the state of the heart. He tells Martha to put away the worry and choose to be still before him. Are our busy efforts really worth it if we don’t root them in love and allow them to demand more time than we can allot in our planner (see 1 Corinth 13)?
Choosing to sit before the Lord is an act of discipline that helps us choose to sit with our friends. Even if it takes up our time and we didn’t get the laundry done like we planned. We will have chosen what is better—rooted faiths and rooted friendships—and the enemy cannot take that away from us.
Questions for your community:
Share your biggest lie about community with your friends. Why do you struggle to share or make time for one another?
How can ya’ll be each other’s cheerleaders in vulnerability?
The next community activity you get invited to, say YES. Put your work away, leave the chores for later and just go and build relationships.