Simply put, high school can be rough. Not even considering the stress of Calculus, Chemistry, and ten-page essays, there still remains the constant drama of the high school social scene. I’m sure you don’t have to be reminded of the nasty back-stabbing, black-mailing, and straight up cruelty that goes on at school, on the weekends, and even on the internet. As a Christian young man or woman, though, you are called by your Creator and Savior to rise above this insanity. I encourage you, as Paul encouraged the Romans in his letter to them, to “not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Sometimes taking a stand for the Lord and not caving into the world can be tough, especially on a secular campus where you feel you’re the only one in a sea of many. I, too, remember feeling like I was coasting through high school, trying to do my best but never radically going against the flow.
But take heart; if you truly have embraced the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are more than equipped to combat the high school drama scene with His design for real relationships. The foundation for deep, meaningful relationships lies in no other source than Jesus Himself. Before you can nurture solid friendships, your friendship (and intimacy) with the Father must come first. He should be your everything, and as you seek Him, you will become more like Him. Take a look at Galatians 5: 19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, orgies, and the like…” Sounds a lot like high school, doesn’t it? But keep reading through verse 26: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentles and self-control… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.” By seeking after your Lord daily, and becoming closer with Him, you will develop these qualities and no longer be needy and selfish. And guess what? It’s when you’re at this point, that you are ready and equipped to be a real friend and experience radical relationships, God’s way.
So now that we’ve reviewed the worldly way of friendships, let’s take a look at what God’s Word has to say about true friendship. The writer of Ecclesiastes paints a picture of what friendship looks like: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who has no one to help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) God clearly has made relationships, and wants friendships to be a mutual source of encouragement. You should give as much or more than you take, in order to maintain and show God’s love in your friendships.
Sometimes, though, developing friendships can be difficult. How do you get started? Well, as a wise man once said, “You have to be a friend to have friends.” Paul lays out a beautiful guideline of what self-sacrificial love and friendship should look like for believers: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Now, this is much easier said than done, and seems simpler on paper. What this passage means is that when your friend works hard and aces that test, you rejoice with her instead of resorting to self-pity and envy, and when she hurts your feelings and genuinely asks for forgiveness, you give it to her instead of holding it against her.
Truly, relationships in the body of Christ can be filled with Christian love and unity when Jesus is the center. The psalmist in Psalms 133:1 declares, “How beautiful and pleasing it is when brothers live together in unity!” Before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to His Father about unity among believers: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through [the disciples’] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23) It’s simply beautiful how this love triangle works, with Jesus, the Father, and believers. Jesus is one with the Father, and through His sacrifice has restored us to the Father, so that we too may be one with Him and have unity among fellow Christians. And, we have the His strength and pure love to share with non-believers. So next time you are overwhelmed with the chaos of relationships, remember that His love empowers you to have real, deeper relationships, the kind He designed His children to enjoy.