Life Together: Authentic Friendships

Continuing on our journey of discovery, this is the second installment of the Life Together series, where we are exploring corporate life together, with Rev Rick Warren and Purposed Driven Life.

Here’s the devotional in its entirety.

Now, to my thoughts.  The first thing that jumps out at me is this quote:

Authentic fellowship is not superficial, surface-level chit-chat. It’s genuine, heart-to-heart, sometimes gut-level sharing.

Now I know that most people cannot even fathom this level of intimacy in their assemblies, but to me that is a shame – a travesty!  To be known completely and to know completely – oh the JOY of it! You would not know until you stop how limiting living behind masks is.  This goes far deeper than, “How are you?” “Fine.” “How are the children?” “Oh they’re good…”  This level of authenticity is not for the faint-hearted. It is challenging

It happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.

My church family know my weaknesses, my sins .. just recently there was a great healing of my own personal emotions when I went to them confessing something I had done which was pretty serious, but having them all surround me and pray. As fear of rejection is one of the things I struggle with from time to time,  one member prophetically discerned that I was still carrying guilt about the past actions (which went against what I was saying with my mouth!)  

Then,  on behalf of the group, she  publicly recieved me and accepted me … that broke me – I fell on my face sobbing, as the guilt poured out in tears! After a long time of them literally surrounding me and praying over me as I was crouched on the floor, I was able to stand, whole, healed – and accepted! 

Authenticity is the exact opposite of what you find in many churches. Instead of an atmosphere of honesty and humility, there is pretending, role-playing, politicking, superficial politeness, and shallow conversation. People wear masks, keep their guard up, and act as if everything is rosy in their lives. These attitudes are the death of real friendship. 

It’s dangerous to be this open:

Of course, being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection, and being hurt again. 

That’s the sad truth.  Instead of havens of holiness… most churches represent political parties – bickering and one-upmanship abound!  It’s disgusting…  rather than a place of peace and safety – a ‘city of refuge’ where those hurting can come to be healed and protected, most churches attack more than they assist – especially their own.  Thank God it is not all like that!

Echoing the devotion’s question – who would want to take the risk of being ridiculed, ostrasized and hurt – again?

Because it’s the only way to grow spiritually and be emotionally healthy. The Bible says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed” (James 5:16 MSG)

My own experience bears this out.  My prayer is that for those hurting, the Body of Christ would again represent healing and wholeness rather than separation and pain.  Like others (Jonie, Jennifer, Annie, to name a few….)

And you don’t have to look into a ‘traditional’ gathering in a building to fine authentic friendship in the Body of Christ!  I have found authentic friends for life right here on the blogosphere – either by commenting on their blogs or having them commenting here on mine!  The friends I have found here have borne me through some crises in my own life and have become wrapped around my heart – all without seeing them face to face (yet!)

Is there authentic friendship in your life?  Do you see life together either with a group, either online or offline?

 

 

 

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16 Responses

  1. Beautiful, Rob! and so challenging. Yes, it is a lovely thing to be safe enough to open up entirely and share our true selves without fear. As you said, so many people live with shame and guilt that whispers in their ear that they are not good enough for people to really love – therefore if they open up, all they’ll be is hurt. Wow. This goes so deep. Thanks for sharing.

    • I knew you’d like that, Annie 🙂

      And… thank you for being one of MY authentic friendships…

      Love you…

      • :blush:

        Thanks, Rob. It has been a blessing to know you.

  2. I’ve only found this type of authenticity with some blog buddies and my Celebrate Recovery group. It’s a sad thing to confess, considering I’ve been in the church my whole life. Mostly it’s been superficial, judgmental relationships I’ve endured at church. I’ve decided CR will be the best place for me for a while yet. Hopefully, in time, I’ll feel I can reach out again. But healing needs to take place first…and lots of swing-time with God. 😉

    • I agree, Michelle… that IS a sad thing to report. Well, I hope that in time you can consider me one of your blog buddies 😀 I’ll use Annie as a character reference lol 🙂

      Seriously, though, my philosophy has been ‘treat others how you want to be treated…’ and my life is an open book. I have to learn boundaries, but in general I am pretty open … and I find that, risk of being hurt aside, it does give people permission to be open around me.

      And btw – welcome to The Hand of God… this is your first comment here… so, again, welcome! Don’t be a stranger! 😉

  3. This is so timely Rob. We’ve been talking about this in our Connect Group. Or should I say groups – both the one that meets in the more traditional sense at our home, and the one which includes a group of Twitterers that meets on TokBox every week.

    Add in the discussion on blogs (which can also extend into multi-person email discussions – thank you Gmail for making this easy!), and you have some very real relationships.

    God is bigger than any division that may seem to be there by distance, etc. I don’t want to put Him in a box to suit me.

    • Add in the discussion on blogs (which can also extend into multi-person email discussions – thank you Gmail for making this easy!), and you have some very real relationships.

      I agree, David… GMAIL RULES! I’ve gotten so close to Annie through Gmail…. Hey we can hook up too, if you want! 😉

      God is bigger than any division that may seem to be there by distance, etc. I don’t want to put Him in a box to suit me.

      Agreed! God is sooo BIG… I have proven his omnipresence through ministering online…. and the friends I’ve met here too! NO BOXES for GOD! Yahoo!!!!!

  4. Thanks Robert, another thoughtful and challenging post.
    Dare I trust again?
    It’s been 15 years since I left the church and I’m only now starting to talk about it with “strangers” – here!
    It still hurts – you describe above the “disgusting” hypocritical church I left – though you didn’t mention spiritual abuse.
    I honestly don’t think I’m ready yet to risk it.
    Here on the internet it’s “safe” – I can put the computer off if you get too close to me, I can delete you from my address book and my bookmarks. I’m a burnt cat – I keep away from people I don’t know and don’t trust their warmth. It takes years to build up relationships and trust and to feel safe.
    Ok, I’ve made a wee start here – thanks for giving me this opportunity.
    God bless you!

    • You’re right… I haven’t experienced spiritual abuse… but I am grateful that you have made my little blog one of your steps along your road to recovery.

      God bless you, Jonie…

      You are right – it does take time to build relationships, but it doesn’t have to take years…. I’ve found some lifelong friends here on blog-land within a few months…. but as I’ve said, I haven’t experienced spiritual abuse.

      Take as long as you need here, Jonie… and if you want to get closer to me, I’m willing. One step at a time.

      Bless you!

  5. So glad you experienced some healing at your home church! Blessings! Jenny

  6. So glad you received some emotional healing at your church! Blessings, Jenny

  7. […] mentioned an example of this in my second last post on Authentic Friendship , where my church came around me and supported and accepted me when I confessed a sin to them. […]

  8. […] Life Together – Authentic Friendships […]

  9. I love this study. i am new to authentic relationships (in the last year or so). They are so much harder to maintain but are so incredibly worth it. I truly do not know what I would do without my “soul ties” now. They are the world to me. There is nothing like a group of people you can confess anything with and they will love and pray for you. When people break down and admit that they too are flawed the trust relationship flows. My girls and husband are my little slice of heaven here on earth.

    • Oh yeah! REAL relationship is much harder than the ‘imposed’ relationship of sitting next to people in the same ‘church’… In a normal church structure, you seem to have ‘relationship’ because you ‘go’ to the same ‘church’ … but it isn’t always that these people have your back.

      When people break down and admit that they too are flawed the trust relationship flows.

      In an authentic friendship – you have the greater joy … but at the risk of greater pain because of how vulnerable you become.

  10. […] Life Together – Authentic Friendships […]

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