We live in a world that teaches overwhelming individuality. We believe that the world is our oyster, and we are to look out for number one. Sometimes when I hear this, I wonder, “Why have friendships with anyone?“ “Why be in relationship with another human being?“ When I read the Bible, one of the most wonderful things it talks about is the mission that God is planning for the world through Abraham. The people of God are blessed so they can be blessings. Yet, when I read the Bible, I am reminded of the awful (yet hopeful) reality of how hard relationships can be. Books like Ephesians are filled with the words of Paul giving constant direction in how we are to remain unified. The fact that this has to be a major theme of a book shows the damages that human beings can do to one another. Sometimes, instead of being blessings, we become curses.
One of the wonderful realities of being made in the image of God is that every human being can become an encounter for a person to experience him. Likewise, for those living in the awakening of the Holy Spirit, we are promised that we can experience God through one another. This living reality of relationships can easily become the grace of God from one person to another. Many people can see the grace quite easily. Grace, meaning gift, is how many of us feel about our friends. If we are lucky, we have found a few people who are a gift of life, the grace of God. This is the power of God, creating human beings as a gift, in order to be given away to one another.
Yet, we are all greedy people at times. Our families, our friends, and many other people around us have stolen or damaged the gift of life that we ourselves are. We have all had relationships with people who come with little or no gift to offer to others. They themselves have lost sight of the grace of life and are trying to recuperate by taking ours. They have been treated so poorly by others that they are begging for love and acceptance. People who are grabbing life around them are the most exhausting relationships we have because they rob from us the abundance in which we are called to live.
But, there are a few extraordinary people out there who offer us true friendship. They offer us grace. The beauty of giving us a gift. A gift which was not present to us in that moment, but now gives us a reason to live. It gives a purpose, a calling, a passion. Their ability to live gives way to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer says is Christ the mediator. The ability for God to hand the gift from one person to the other. The ability to receive the grace, the gift of friendship, is not to find them, but God in them. This is why we can respect the dignity of each human in the personhood; God stands between us, and allows us to give and receive one another through him. He stands between us so we can give and receive him through one another. This giving and receiving of life is why we are friends with one another. But, how do we get there?