(Originally posted on our former blog site on 6/26/2013)
When was the last time you lost a friend? It used to be much harder to know and then this crazy thing called social media came up with this button that made everyone painfully aware of when they had done something that wasn’t pleasing to someone else.
You know exactly which button I am referring to- it was eloquently named: Defriend.
I have to admit, for someone who loves having friends and making others feel happy this whole “defriend” thing could just be the death of me.
I have struggled for most of my life finding the balance between pleasing God and pleasing people. I enjoy serving others, I find great joy in making someone laugh or smile through their tears, I love listening to what other people are dreaming up for their own life, and I even look forward to filtering through mountain loads of selfies and food pictures to know what my friends are doing.
Then if I were to get painfully transparent with you I would also tell you how I often sacrifice my own needs for others. Not the “giving up my lunch so someone that is hungry can eat” kind of need, but the need to spend time with God, or the need to rest because it has been an overwhelming week and I can barely keep my eyes open kind of sacrifice.
I have a hard time saying no because I want to make people happy; I don’t want to disappoint anyone.
I need to not disappoint anyone.
Thus the love hate relationship with social media.
It is so easy to get upset and just “clean out our lists”. Don’t get me wrong, there are many times that God convicts me on the people I choose to get close enough to influence my life but then there are “friends” or people that I am acquainted with that I don’t necessarily agree with lifestyle, political, or religious beliefs but enjoy staying in contact with. Not to compare myself to Jesus because I am a far way off, but even Jesus Himself hung out with tax collectors and I can assure you that He was not excited about their life choices.
I may even go one step further and say that if Jesus had a Facebook He would find a way to disable the Defriend button. The Bible says that He comes to ALL who call out His name. That Jesus died a gruesome death for ALL. Not just the socially acceptable. Or even the morally acceptable. ALL.
I was a hot mess when I called out to God and He loved me. Not only does He choose to love me but He also calls me friend. (Insert the best Youtube video ever of a super old band singing “Jesus is a Friend of Mine” here). He will never walk away from me. He will never ignore me. He will never deny my very existence. And while Jesus will never do these things, people surely will.
I have caught myself in such despair from time to time seeing that yet again I had “lost” another friend. Whether it was me, my personal convictions, my family, my political or religious beliefs, my friends, or even my church that had offended them- I now find myself one friend less. With every people pleasing desire in my body I struggle searching out the reason to persuade them to “love me” again or even just “like me”; to mend what had happened and plead to move on. But for some this is not an option.
For some they cannot love me, they can however forget me altogether or, even worse, hate me instead.
I have been told that I have my very own “hate club”, that I am a poor excuse for a pastor. I have heard things that would make me question the very calling on my life. I do not say this for your pity, but for you to understand that I have been there. At one particularly low time I can remember thinking to myself, “but I did everything right, I didn’t DO anything this time, there is nothing to apologize for, this isn’t my fault.”
Have you ever thought that? That you were in the right or had done everything you should to make it right and you were still being shunned? I have found that after doing all that is required of me according to the scriptures that if a person is still unwilling to move beyond the situation it is usually not a reflection of me at all.
If Jesus were to say anything to you facing a similar circumstance, it would be this… “it’s not you, it’s ME”. It sounds like a silly line a boy would say to a girl when he wanted to break up but it’s true. The Bible says in John 15:18 that “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” There will be times in life that the only reason you are being hated or persecuted will be because of the name of Jesus.
He was PERFECT and they HATED Him. I am not perfect, I am far from, but there have been times when I had done nothing wrong but was still treated with hatred. This world will hate you for standing for what is right. They will call you a hypocrite, a freak, or a bigot. They will tell you that you are the one full of hate and that you should not only accept them but celebrate them.
To all of that I say this- lift your head up my friend, it’s not YOU it’s Him in you that they hate.
The next time that you lose a friend because of your belief in God or you moral convictions I pray that you do not take it to heart. It isn’t you, it’s Him. Stop beating yourself up, stop overthinking what you could have done differently, stop letting the situation take your joy from you, stop letting it rob you of your sleep. The only thing you need to do now is love! Love them, despite them. Love them because He loves them. Love them from a distance if needed, but do not allow hatred to find a place in your heart. They may persecute you, but love them anyways.
Don’t take it personal, it’s not you it’s Me!
John 15:19-21 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.