Thursday, December 31, 2020

Becoming a Friend

As we talk about what it means to resolve to become more like Jesus, to step into being the person that He's created you to be and to surround yourself with those who encourage what they see of Him in you, there's one more resolution that we should all be making that both helps us in our primary resolution (of being more like Jesus) and helps others in theirs, as well:

We have to become the kind of friends that we need in our own lives. 

We have to become the persons who are always looking for the signs of life in others. We have to be friends who are figuring out what Jesus is doing in our friends and who encourage that. We have to fill ourselves with affirmation for others, with encouraging words for those on their own journeys. 

This is tough. At the same time that our own insecurities eat away at us when we are face-to-face with the beauty of others created in God's image, we have to understand that 1) others' insecurities are eating away at them and 2) our insecurities can lead us to feed their monsters. 

Did you know that? Did you know that right now, there are others who are looking at your life and wishing they could be more like you? There are some persons, right now, who are making resolutions to become new persons based on what they've seen in you. There are some persons who are right on the verge of derailing their own creation and calling because something about you seems so beautiful that they think that's what they want for themselves, and they're ready to turn their backs on the things they don't understand about God's creation in them in order to chase after God's creation in you. 

And if we're not secure in knowing Who shapes us, if we don't have that solid foundation of faith that understands creation in the image of God, we can end up letting this go to our head, or worse - to our heart - and add fuel to the fire that is literally burning up our friends' souls. We can start to boast about our beautiful things, thinking that they are who we are rather than that they are the gracious gifts of our glorious God, and we can make others feel more guilty or more depraved for not being more like us when, if we want to be more like Jesus, we ought to be encouraging them to be more like them. 

See how that works? When we become the kind of friend that we need in our own life, we fulfill our own resolution of becoming more like Jesus. And we help someone else become more like Him, too - more like the glorious being created in His image that they are. 

That's one of the coolest things about Jesus. (Okay, there are a lot of cool things about Jesus.) But read through the Gospels, and you'll see that Jesus doesn't have just one prescription for how to be a good, beautiful, glorious human being. Every person He encounters gets a plan tailored just for them. Every person He encounters is treated as the unique individual that they are. Every person is known to be knit together in a special way in his or her mother's womb, and Jesus never fails to recognize that in anyone. 

He tells everyone to be like Him, but the details of what that looks like are different for everyone. Every. single. one. The woman from Canaan, the bleeding woman, the woman at the well - they all have a different encounter with Jesus based on the nature of who they are. Blind Bartimaeus, short-statured Zaccheus, and the rich young ruler all have a different path toward who God created them to be. The demonaic in the graveyard and the young boy afflicted with a demon are two totally different persons, and Jesus knows that. Not only does He know it; He speaks into it. He speaks into every life with a tender tongue, knowing that no two beings in the image of God are exactly the same, even if they're fighting the same battles. 

So this year, yes. I resolve to be more like Jesus. And one of the ways that I'm resolving to do that this year is to become the kind of friend that I need in my own life. This year, I'm not going to let my insecurities draw me away from my story, and I'm not going to let them draw you away from yours. I'm going to be looking for Jesus in you, every chance I get. 

And the strange thing is, the more that I see Him in you, the more I will find Him evident in me. And, well, that's the goal. Isn't it?

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