What kind of friends do you want in your life? Loyal, kind, funny, helpful, fun? It’d be nice to have things in common, but it’d be great to have some differences because no one wants to be friends with a mirror.
Recently a friend of mine, in one of our weekly prayer times, asked me to read a pretty familiar passage in the book of Acts that challenged the way I answer that question.
The passage she was referring to specifically was about the lame beggar by the gate. In Acts 3:1-10 we read about this man who’d been lame his whole life. A couple of friends would pick him up, literally, every morning and carry him to the gate of the temple while they went in to pray and worship. The lame man stayed outside to ask for alms. This went on for years. One day, the apostles Peter and John approach the gate and the man, as usual, asks for any spare change they might have. What Peter does next really struck a chord with me:
“Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!’ Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.” - Acts 3:4-7, NLT
What kind of friends do you have in your life? Are yours the kind who will carry you to the gate every day, leave you there to accept whatever people put in your cup, then carry you back home? Or do your friends ignore the cup, turn you to Jesus and help you to your feet?
I’ll admit it: I want my cup to be filled. It feels good. I tend to look at my cup and wait for people to fill it with validation - tink! Encouragement - tink! Acknowledgment for all I do - tink, tink!
None of those things are bad things. In fact, in Christ they’re quite good. However, the beauty of the power of Jesus is that He removes our need for the cup if we’re willing.
He provides all things we need (Philippians 4:19) so there’s no reason to hold out our cup to the public, the church, our family, or even our spouse, because Jesus is the only one who can fill it in such a way that it never empties again. It’s only when I turn away from Him that I notice the depletion and I start to look to people once again, for what only Jesus can really supply.
It leads me to look at my relationships with a sharper eye. Who points me to Jesus, gives me guidance to listen to Him, and pulls me to my feet to walk it out in obedience? Who doesn’t? Who looks like they do, but really don’t. And who in my life does it really well, but I haven’t been giving them the opportunity to do it more?
To turn it around; am I that friend to others?
Such relationships take intentional work. Seek God for those people in your life, and go do life with those people. Have fun, pray together, laugh together, dream together, mourn together, bear with one another, and seek God together.
It’s amazing how people who will point you to Christ, if you really do want to be pointed to Christ, could have everything or nothing in common with you outside of Jesus and neither extreme really matters. Jesus is the one who unifies us all.