Last month two close friends of mine, Matt and James, drove several hours from South Carolina and Alabama to pray with me about some important decisions I’m facing. They didn’t ask me for money for gas or meals. They didn’t charge me a consulting fee. They just wanted to do what friends do—they sacrificed their own time to offer love, counsel and support. They know I’d do the same for them.
I’ve come to learn that good friends are more valuable than money, fame or career success. Yet many Christians I know struggle in the area of relationships. Many people I’ve met—even pastors—admit they have no friends. And many churches are full of lonely people who are starving for friends but don’t know how to make any.
The modern church does not always place a high value on relationships. While the New Testament commands us to “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22, NASB), we have developed a cold corporate culture. We are content to herd people into buildings for services and then herd them out. Our main concern is that they occupied a seat and listened to a sermon. But did they connect with each other? Even in churches that try to nurture relationships, only a fraction of the people get involved in small groups.
Personally, I don’t believe we will see New Testament revival power or New Testament impact until we reclaim fervent New Testament love. But that realm of love isn’t possible without deep healing and serious attitude adjustments. Here are five of the most serious reasons Christians today struggle in the area of relationships:
1. Self-centeredness. Jesus defined love when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Real friendship is always sacrificial. We tend to want friendship on our terms; we want to be loved and encouraged and comforted. But if we want that kind of love, we should be willing to give it to someone else first. British preacher Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Any man can selfishly desire to have a Jonathan; but he is on the right track who desires to find out a David to whom he can be a Jonathan.”