Early into my teen years I remember wondering why friendship in real life didn’t look like friendship in my books. I remember asking myself why I couldn’t find a faithful friend who was on my side when it came down to it. Maybe that’s just middle school. Then again, maybe it’s a sign that something has gone awry in culture at large.
It’s so easy to quit. Dislike. Unfollow. Unfriend. Sometimes it is healthy to stop, sometimes it’s just quitting. There’s a line somewhere in there designating the difference. Sometimes that line is hard to see. I think I stumbled upon something to help shed some light on it in the Psalms.
Near the end of Psalm 85 it says, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” (Ps. 85:10 NIV) We long for faithfulness, the answer of where to find it is love. When I look back over my life the things that I have stuck to and hung onto, even to the point of fierceness, are the things and people I love most. It’s a short list, I’m sorry to say, but at least there is a list at all.
So our faithfulness problem is closely linked to a love problem. With so much drama, brokenness, and casual attitudes towards love in our culture it’s no wonder that we don’t know how to love. Or a better way of putting it might be, we don’t know how to express love properly. As Michael W. Smith wisely sung in the early 90’s, “Love isn’t love until you give it away.”
One of those ways to give love away is to be faithful. I’m talking more than just sex. I’m talking offering a listening ear, and then keeping those confidences. Or building up with encouragement rather than tearing down with criticism. Sticking up for someone in the face of personal attack, even if it means losing face yourself in the court of public opinion. Like, “I have your back bro!”
It’s a matter of doing what’s right for the other person you love despite the cost, however big or small. And doing the right thing because you love them, as well as it being the right thing to do. The love is what brings the follow through. It’s easy to see the right thing to do, the discomfort that may come along with that right thing, and back out in order to avoid the discomfort. In my experience, avoiding discomfort as a rule in life tends to lead to a loveless life.
What about the second half of that verse? “Righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Who else wants more peace in their life? I certainly do. Again, here is the answer: righteousness. Or as Nicky Gumbel puts it in his Bible in One Year app, “right-relationship.”
Think about it, when there is a falling out in any relationship, be it familial, romantic, or friendly, it creates a dissonance inside. The more discord in multiple relationships, the more dissonance inside until there is little to no peace. It doesn’t matter whose “fault” it is that the falling out happened either. Regardless of who caused what, when there is a break or misunderstanding in a relationship it hurts.
So if we want a little more peace in our hearts, it might be a good idea to find some closure with some of those relationships that have fallen out. Obviously, there are some abusive situations that probably can’t be resolved with the other person, but Jesus is willing to listen and bring healing to those places of hurt. Or perhaps the person involved passed away, again you can’t go and resolve things with them. Jesus is still waiting, still listening, still ready to bring restoration.
Most of all, the relationship that needs to be made right, and kept right, is our relationship with Jesus. Sometimes it’s just time to clean out the closets of our hearts and lay it all out at His feet. It’s time to tell him the things we’re ashamed of, or the injustice we’ve suffered, or the things that we go to instead of Him for comfort and life even if they’re embarrassing or stupid.
Sometimes we just have to stand there before Jesus without costumes and masks and say, “Here is the whole wretched state of affairs.” And He can look at us and say, “Whew, I’m glad we got that out of the way. It doesn’t change the way I feel, I still love you. Let’s go for a walk together and talk some more.”
When we stop trying to be someone else to avoid the discomfort of facing God as just ourselves it opens the door to things being made right between us and God. It allows Him into the things that we struggle with so He can help us bring that strife to a resolve. It allows Him to help us remove the things that come between us so that we can be together again in right-relationship. Jesus wants us to find peace in Him.
So the next time I find myself asking, “Why can’t I find a faithful friend?” I’m going to ask myself if I’m being faithful and showing love to my friends and family (because isn’t it cool when you can be friends with your family?). When I feel I need to find peace I’m going to see if I have right-relationships with those in my life. Most of all I’m going to check my spirit and make sure there’s nothing standing between me and Jesus so I can maintain my right-relationship with Him and live in His peace.
Change Your World. Song title: “Give It Away.” Artist: Michael W. Smith. Year released: 1992. Label: Geffen Records.