A phrase is being used in our society today that I am starting to question. The phrase is, "I'm not here to make friends." This past week on the television showAmazing Race, one aggressive team talked about their schemes. The team didn't mind cutting in front of others or backstabbing another team to win. Their reason was simple, "We're not here to make friends." In another show, Dance Moms, the girls (and their mothers) seem to compete with each other for more attention from the lead choreographer/owner of the dance studio. In a blatant attempt to schmooze with the owner, while putting her daughter in front of all the other dancers, the mother replied, "I'm not here to make friends."
This phrase transcends reality television. In the football playoffs this year,
several players were taking rude potshots at each other in the media. Their
basis for such comments was driven by this phrase, "I'm here to win, not make
friends." An acquaintance of mine was recently called for jury duty. There was a
limited number of comfortable chairs. He stepped out of line so that he could
secure one of those chairs for himself. Why? Because he's not at jury duty
to make friends. I've witnessed this behavior in coffee shops, movie
theaters, at the four way stop on J Street before the railroad track, in the 10
item and under line at the grocery store, and sadly at our local
My concern about this phrase is that it seems to play down the value of friendship. Although it is simply a catch phrase, I'm concerned that repeated use of it will diminish friendship in favor of getting something before anyone else. In other words, saying "I'm not here to make friends" seems to make it okay for one to live at the expense of finding and making friends or even display rudebehavior.
Jesus values friendship. He values relationships with God and with one another.
I believe this because of what we call the Great Commandment. (Say it with me if you like) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor
as yourself. (Mt 22:36-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27) Jesus values
relationships. When we put our relationships with our neighbors on par with our
relationship with God we live out Jesus' belief about how we are to treat one
Besides valuing relationships, Jesus teaches us about friendship in the way he lived his life. Jesus told his disciples, "I no longer call you servants; instead, I call you friends." (John 15:15) He said that right after saying, "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends." (15:13) The night he said these things he was arrested. The next day he was crucified.
Jesus came here to make friends. He even befriended a thief hanging on a cross next to him. His first act after baptism was to make friends. Jesus made friends everywhere he went. Whether it was a late night visit from a religious authority, or a woman caught in
adultery, or a tax collector sitting at his booth, or a person who had suffered
with a deformity, or someone with a contagious skin disease, Jesus made them his friends. He did so while preaching from a boat, or sitting under an olive tree
talking about the Kingdom of God, or on a road to Emmaus or Damascus.
If Jesus values relationships, and was willing to lay his life down for his friends, how should that affect the way we live? I doubt that my aggressive driving friend would ever make friends with the person he cut off, but then again, one never knows.
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine cut off another car to get into a parking space during a rainy evening before Christmas. Shortly after the cut-off, she ran into the other driver in the store. It was our Bishop. Maybe we are called to make friends with jury members, other drivers at a 4-way stop, moms in a
competitive event, at work, and even at sporting events. Since it was good enough for Jesus to live that way, it is probably a good way for us to live too
My friend, may God richly bless you this da