The humorous “Shallow Small Group” video typifies the problem with many American friendships by presenting a group that seeks to intentionally be shallow. They make a choice to NOT deal with problems, NOT invest in each other’s lives, NOT study God’s Word, NOT do outreach, etc. The goal of the group, instead of going deep into each other’s lives, is simply a meeting of people to have a good time once a week. Obviously, it is a parody of what groups should NOT be, but it is a stinging rebuke of what many of us create in our own circle of friends—shallowness. The video ends with the presenter summing up the message by saying, “When things get too deep, people drown.”
The next ingredient in our friendship cake is that you must have purposeful intimacy with a friend in order to have a relationship that is meaningful. In the last post we talked about ensuring that you have a certain level of quantity time with your friends in order to grow, this is fellowship. In this post, I will demonstrate the need for ‘quality time’. Without this essential ingredient, the relationship will only languish at a surface level.
Going Deep Requires Intentionality
Simply put, there is no way to deepen your friendship with someone if you are not going to do it on purpose. Always waiting for the ‘right time’ to appear will sort of be like waiting for money to drop in your lap—it is not going to happen. If you are seeking to build a friendship, then you will have to think, plan and work to make that happen. You will also have to think carefully about how you will use your time when you are together with your friend. Are you going to just talk about sports and the news, or will you talk about what is going on in your lives and how you can help one another grow to be more like Christ? Building and strengthening this type of relationship will require intentional effort.
Going Deep Requires Trust
Not only will friendship require you to be intentional, it will also require a level of trust. When you seek to build a deep and personal relationship with someone, you will have to expose who you are to another person. Since the Garden of Eden, man has been trying to cover and hide his shame. In building a relationship with someone that is meaningful and sweet, you will have to remove the layers of protection that we all have put up so that true fellowship may occur.
There is no doubt, however, that during your building of a relationship with someone, be it a spouse or a friend of the same gender, they will hurt you and your trust will ultimately be violated. C.S. Lewis says it best; “if you want to avoid being hurt then do not give your heart to anyone, not even an animal.” But, as he continues on in his observation, he reminds us that when we do not give our heart away, it will change, and it will die. Trust will be required, but so will forgiveness. Your close friends will hurt you, there is no way around it. And, when they do, you will need to practice Biblical forgiveness.
Going Deep Requires Going First
Most of us are always hedging our bets when it comes to relationships with one another. We are always calculating, whether intentionally or unintentionally, if someone is going to hurt us. We don’t want to be in a one-sided relationship and we don’t want to be the one who exposes ourselves only to have that person hurt us with that information. We are stuck in an endless game of chicken in which someone is going to have to make the first move. If you desire to have a deep and meaningful friendship with someone; you will have to commit to being the one who goes first and not waiting on the other person to do it. This principle might range in going first when seeking forgiveness, or when exposing how you are struggling in a certain way, or when initiating to serve them in some way. All of us are guilty of wanting the other person to go first and to go the furthest, but Christ in His example sets the clear tone. He goes first—always! As followers of Christ, we need to go first in order to create and foster the relationships that will be glorifying to Him.
This week, consider what steps you need to take in being a purposeful friend who is seeking to intentionally invest in quality time with someone. Abandon your desire to be safe and put yourself out there. Be the one who goes first and goes furthest in all areas of the relationship—we would do best by each other if we all sought to out do the showing of honor and love to one another (Rom. 12:10). Ask yourself, what do I need to do in order to make this friendship not be one that is shallow? Let us not be like the parody video referenced above. Rather, may we work to be the model of a friend that Christ was then, and is today.