Transforming Our Friendships

April 18, 2016

Colin Mattoon

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Colin Mattoon

Counselors have many hopes for those they counsel. Some of these hopes include seeing a person love God, trust in the gospel, and grow in sanctification (killing sin and growing in obedience). One of the most important hopes I have for counselees and disciples is that they would learn to think biblically. Learning to think biblically is what Paul encourages Christians to do in Romans 12:1-2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 shows that Christians should not be conformed to this world. An interesting note about the term “be conformed” is that it is in the passive voice. This shows us that being conformed is something that happens to all of us. We don’t have to work, try, or put in effort to be conformed to the world’s way of thinking and living. It just naturally happens to us.

In every area of life, we are naturally conformed to the world, which is why Paul tells us to be transformed by renewing of our minds. Although being conformed to the world happens to us naturally, this renewing occurs supernaturally as we learn to think biblically—agreeing with what God’s Word teaches. Learning to think biblically leads to transformation in our lives in those areas that previously we were conformed to the world’s way of living.

One area of life that Christians often don’t realize they are conformed and in need of transformation is their friendships. Friendship is the most important—but least talked about—subject in the church. Every hour of every day is affected by our friendships. All people develop friendship norms—ways of thinking about and living out their friendships. These ideas are shaped by friends, family, school, movies, and numerous other influences. Usually, these ideas don’t come from Scripture; they come from the world. When it comes to friendship, we end up like fish that don’t realize they are swimming in water; it’s just what’s normal.

So where do we start in renewing our thinking about friendships? The best place to start is by looking to Jesus. Here are six ways Jesus challenges us to transform our view of friendship. Encouraging counselees to renew their minds by thinking about each of these truths leads to gospel-based transformation.

  1. Jesus is our perfect friend and our model of perfect friendship (John 15:15).
  2. Jesus models how Christians should seek to build friendships with people (Luke 7:34).
  3. Jesus shows that Christian friendship involves loving and serving others (John 15:12-15; cf. Prov. 17:17).
  4. Jesus shows that Christian friendship involves considering others more important than themselves (cf. Phil. 2:3-8).
  5. Jesus shows Christian friendship is full of compassion (John 11:32-36).
  6. Jesus shows Christian friendship gives honest, wise, timely, and sometimes challenging counsel (cf. Prov. 15:22; 24:6; 25:20; 27:5-6; 27:9; 27:14; 27:17; 28:23).

Christians should have a different view of friendships than the world. Jesus is our perfect friend who models perfect friendship for us. I submit the following definition of friendship for your consideration: Christian friendships are relationships that aim to love (Matt 22, Rom. 12:9-10), serve (Phil 2:3-8), and enjoy (John 15:9-17, Prov. 27:9, 1 Sam. 19:1) others for our mutual benefit and for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 1:16).

These are helpful biblical truths that give us a starting point for renewing our minds and transforming our friendships. May these truths help your counselees and disciples be transformed to think biblically about friendships for their good and God’s glory.

Join the Conversation

How often do you talk about friendship with people whom you counsel or disciple? What types of “conforming to the world” are most difficult for Christians to overcome?