How to Make Eternal Friendships
By Jeff Cranston
There will be many things in life that you will regret doing or not doing. I don’t believe that anyone will ever regret spending time with people and sharing what Jesus Christ means in his or her life. I mean being a friend to people.
Read Mark 5:18-20. In this passage, Jesus had just delivered a man from demon possession. The man’s experience was so wonderful that Mark tells us that he begged to be able to follow Jesus. Jesus told him, “Go home to your friends … ” Mark goes on to say that the man, “ … went off and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone marveled.”
The truth is that most of the people who become Christians do so because a friend or relative has been important in their lives and have told them about Jesus. So how do you make these eternal friendships? Here are a few things you can do:
1. Pray for people.
By this I mean pray for specific people. It will change their level of receptivity to you. If you have been able to share what Jesus Christ means to you, you will find that they consider you someone to be consulted when it comes to spiritual things or crises in their life. It will also change you, and you may be the more difficult case in the friendship. You can’t get off your knees after praying for someone’s spiritual needs and immediately take a hostile attitude toward that person.
2. Invite people to your home.
This will accomplish a couple of things. First, if they haven’t been around many Christians, it will let them see that you aren’t strange. Second, inviting them to your home will give you an opportunity to serve them and to get to know them.
3. Become a giver of books.
For people with a philosophical bent, “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis is hard to beat, but a lot of people are not that way. You have to get to know them. Whatever you give to somebody, however, make sure you have read it yourself. In fact, that’s the best way to give a book away. Telling someone that you read it and found it helpful, and that you would be interested in his or her reaction to it, is one of the best ways to do this.
4. Enter into their world.
By that, I mean to enter into it in spiritually non-lethal ways. You see Jesus doing this. You can participate in those things your friends do which are not a compromise with your own principles, and almost everyone has such things. If you take an interest in their world, the likelihood is that they will take an interest in yours—and that means spiritual things.
5. Offer to pray for their personal needs.
What I’m talking about here is different from my first suggestion about praying for them for their general spiritual and personal needs that you already know about. What if you go to the person and offer to pray for particular needs that they suggest to you? People usually appreciate the kind of concern that this shows on your part.
6. Be a friend to those in need or who are in a time of trouble.
Everybody has troubles or needs from time to time, and often that is when a person feels most lonely and in need of a real friend. Being there for people when they are in a pickle, if only to show them that you care, will help build a friendship for eternity.
Jeff Cranston is lead pastor at LowCountry Community Church, Bluffton, S.C.