Guest post by Laura Pinckard
Can you relate?
We often try so hard to get other people to like things about us instead of actually letting people get to know us, but these relationships can be shallow. In order to have Christ-centered relationships, we need to be focused on intentionality, vulnerability, prayer, encouragement, and joy, not superficial get-togethers or impersonal conversations.
A desire for change:
Have you ever wondered how you can make your relationships feel less shallow and look more like Christ? Do you desire more meaningful relationships and a change from the emptiness of impersonal friendships? If you answered yes to the above, then we have a lot in common!
I am writing about Christ-centered friendships not because I am an expert on the topic, but because I too have a longing for relationships that go further than Facebook posts or casual coffee dates. I want my friendships to be based on a common love for the Lord that seeps into my daily life. If this is something that you desire as well, I implore you to read and do the following 5 things that can make your friendship more centered on Christ!
| Be intentional with your time
Whether you’re Facetiming an old pal or going out to coffee with your best friend, you NEED to make sure you are not wasting your time with that person. A good way to avoid this waste is to put your phone away. How often do we “spend time” with our friends while our faces are buried in technology? Throughout Scripture we see that when Jesus was with His disciples, He was all there, totally involved and not wasting time when with them. We too should be careful to always be in the moment with the people that we are with.
The time you spend with your friends should be purposeful and uninterrupted.
| Be vulnerable
In order to have meaningful friendships that point you back to Christ, you need to be honest about your struggles. Talking about how you are actually doing, sins that you are struggling with, and seeking your friend’s advice are great ways to push yourself to vulnerability. On top of that, you have an obligation to call your friend out when you see sin in their lives. This may be even more difficult than talking about your own struggles, but if you really love that friend, you should not hesitate to speak the truth they need.
In order to have deep friendships, you have to talk about things that you’ve never felt like sharing.
| Be in prayer
Although this sounds like a Sunday-school answer, prayer cannot be stressed enough. If your desire truly is to have Christ-centered relationships, then prayer is not an option! Praying for your friend is helpful and encouraging, but praying with your friend is invaluable. When you talk to your friends or are planning a time to be together, you need to be constantly asking for and giving prayer requests. It doesn’t necessarily have to be dark and sinful things that you ask for prayer about (but those are good things too). You can and should ask for prayer in the little areas of your life. Don’t stop at asking for and giving prayer requests. Take the time to actually pray with that friend about the things on each of your hearts.
Praying for and with each other is an invaluable time of fellowship and growth that you need to take advantage of.
| Encourage each other
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up.” Encouragement can look like a number of things, but there are a few that I want to touch on.
First, I want to challenge you to share what you have been learning from God’s word. Even if it doesn’t feel important, it could be just what your friend needs to hear. There is nothing quite as encouraging than listening to what God has been teaching someone else.
The second thing you need do is make sure that you are having uplifting conversations (Ephesians 4:29). What you talk about with your friends should always be an encouragement to you, to them, and to those who are listening around you. Have you ever wondered how hindered your testimony could be if someone overheard you gossiping with your friends? (On a side-note, “venting” sits dangerously close to the line of gossip, so make sure seeking advice does not turn into sin).
Finally, your friends need to hear what they are doing well. In Philippians 1, Paul does not hesitate to praise the church for their dedication to the Gospel. If you see a character trait that is Godly or notice a change in their lives, tell them! This is a great way to not only lift your friend’s spirit but also to push them to continue to live like Christ.
Encouraging your friends takes little effort but makes all the difference.
| Have fun!
God is not asking us to have Christ-centered friendships that are boring. In Ecclesiastes 8, Solomon says; “And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun”.
Your time does not always have to be overwhelmed by deep theology or sin struggles. I strongly believe that Jesus had a blast with His disciples! I mean, isn’t He the one who created fun and laughter in the first place? Go out and do fun things together!
It’s okay (and even Biblical!) to laugh and enjoy time together.
So now what?
Like I said, we often want other people to like things about us instead of actually letting people get to know us. That needs to end. If we desire to have Christ-centered relationships, then intentionality, vulnerability, prayer, encouragement, and joy should be our focus.