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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Crews

When Friendship Feels Rough...

We’ve all seen or heard about relationships or friendships that blow up. Best friends turn into rival enemies. A person or people leave a church hurt. Two or more people are no longer on speaking terms. As a Christian, what should that really look like though? I think the stereotypical response that a lot of Christians go to and advise is to “turn the other cheek.” This Scripture reference goes back to Matthew 5:38-39, where Jesus was talking about “Going the Second Mile.” The Scriptures reads, “You have heard that it was said, An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

From a history standpoint though, “Jesus was explaining that an eye for an eye (from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy) was not given as a mandate for personal vengeance but as a principle to guide courts in determining appropriate punishments” (HCSB). It’s a great motto, but sometimes it’s misinterpreted, especially in relationships that contain abuse. Jesus would never call us to stay in an abusive relationship.  

I think the better picture of ending a friendship or maybe even a job or other area of life where we feel pressure/dissension can be found when we look at Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15. 

In Acts 15:36-41, we read of a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. Paul wanted to circle back and visit all the towns where they had preached and brought people to know Christ. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark along, but Paul said no. John Mark, often called “Mark,” was the author of the book of Mark in the New Testament. Paul had refused because Mark had left Paul and Barnabas at Perga to return to Jerusalem on a previous trip for a reason that’s not mentioned (Acts 13:13). Apparently, Paul felt that Mark had abandoned the mission and did not trust him anymore. So Barnabas and Paul chose to peacefully part ways because they could not come to an agreement. Barnabas left with Mark and Paul left with Silas (Acts 15:41). 

This shows us that even the people closest to Jesus, His apostles, could not keep perfect fellowship and unity. It demonstrates that even when we’re not seeing eye-to-eye with other believers (on non-biblical principles), that it’s OK to part ways peacefully and to carry on the mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus. In separation, we should prayerfully consider reunification. Jesus did command us to “Love our neighbor as ourselves” in Mark 12:31, so our hope should always be rooted in love and forgiveness as we, too, were offered forgiveness from Jesus.

My friends, I didn’t plan to write on friendship this week, but the Spirit continued to bring me back to it. If there’s someone in your life you need to part ways with for a time, that is OK. Handle it with love and grace, not slandering one another, but instead separating in peace and praying for reconciliation down the road. Relationships, especially as adults, are hard. However, when we put the love and humility of Jesus on, we can approach situations with new insight and softer hearts.

In the words of Paul, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).

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