Written By Soo Yi, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese
Whom will you call a friend? Is it just someone you can have a meal and watch movies with? Or is it someone you can chat and gossip with? What kind of person is he or she? We often describe a true friend as someone who will stick with us through thick and thin, who values us, and who won’t hurt or betray us. But friends can change, and so can friendships.
When I went to Taiwan to study, I took the effort to make many friends so that I would not be lonely. Many of them were fun-loving—some would skip class—and I enjoyed their company. We would celebrate our birthdays together, and travel together. At the time, I felt like they were all the friends I would ever need.
Because we enjoyed hanging out together, we decided to work together on projects in class. That’s when things started to change. While preparing for our presentations, we started to differ in our opinions. Some even found excuses to skip the discussions because they didn’t want to do the presentations. We may have started out as close friends, but our affections towards one another changed completely. As we began to argue more, we drifted apart, and soon, we parted ways.
I still wanted companionship, however, so I started hanging out with a new group of friends. This group enjoyed drinking and singing in karaoke clubs. While I joined them, I realized that their company and activities did not satisfy my longing for true friendship. I felt empty inside, and started to ask myself: What am I doing? Are these people my friends? Are there any real friendships in this world?
The answers to these questions came when I started going to church again.
While I was a “second-generation Christian”—I was brought up in a Christian family—I didn’t like going to church, and hadn’t gone for a very long time. But someone invited me to her church, and after spending some time with people there, I realized that they were different somehow. They didn’t gossip, yet they had plenty to talk about. They didn’t go clubbing and drinking, yet they had plenty to laugh about. They didn’t despise nor criticize one another; instead, they listened to one another, and encouraged and supported each other. It gave me an inkling of true friendship was all about.
Their behaviour also piqued my curiosity. How did they do it? I wondered. How did they find it in them to care so much for each other, and where did all the joy come from?
Then I found out the source of their friendship—love. These people could love one another because they were loving with the love of Christ, and seeing one another through Christ’s eyes.
The experience taught me some new lessons about friendship. I realized that we often talk about liking our friends. But loving them is more difficult. Can we really love our friends without any reservation? The answer is: Yes, we can, because of Christ’s love. As 1 John 4:19 says: “We love because [God] first loved us.”
And because real friends love each other, they help each other grow, and pick each other up when they fall. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
My new friends in church also showed me that ultimately, the Lord Jesus Christ is our best friend. Only He will never change. We can share our joys, sorrows, and troubles with Him, because He has promised to help us, support us, and walk with us through our journey of life. We can rely completely on Him, no matter what the circumstances are. When we allow Jesus to become our best friend, we can experience His love, learn to love others, and make true friends.