Rags To Riches: Growing Good Friendships
Friendships are a real blessing in our lives; I can think of many friends who I am truly grateful for. But they aren't always easy to get right. Emma and Joanna take us through what God desires for true friendship, and how we can be encouraged to keep 'loving one another.' N x
“Friendship is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” (C.S. Lewis)
For us that moment was when we found out we both drove mopeds and both loved Jesus!
Our Rags to Riches story is that God used two sinful, somewhat stubborn individuals, to challenge and change each other. As we were transformed from Rags to Riches, Jesus became our friend and showed us what true friendship is all about. God’s grace, mercy, and love brought us together and remain the most precious thing in our friendship.
Joanna: In 2013, I was quickly realising that I was not as awesome as I thought, and that no matter how hard I tried, I could not be a good person by myself. I needed Jesus’ help. That year, I again dedicated my life to Jesus, but this time it was different. I was not pledging to try my best to be a good person. I was accepting Jesus’ gift of life and giving my life to him, warts and all. I might still sin, but I was going to accept the peace of knowing that every sin I had ever done, and was ever going to do was already washed away.
Emma: In Summer 2013 on camp I met Joanna, and that summer changed my life. I was due to get baptised at the end of that summer, but I was really dreading it and saw it only as something I ‘had’ to do, not something I wanted to do. It was just the next item on the ‘to-do’ list of being a good Christian girl and PK (Pastor’s Kid).
J: I can see now how the Lord provided me with crucial friendships at the right time. When I met Emma, there was no other friendship I needed more than Jesus'. Emma was in my mind a fully-fledged Christian who already seemed to be 'riches' rather than 'rags' (although she may say different), whilst I was a classic coaster who struggled with doubt on a daily basis. That summer has proved to be one of the most important in my life so far.
E: I left camp with the biggest joy I’d ever felt; fully committed and giving all to Christ, no holding back, and no turning back. I remember feeling so different at the end of the week compared to the start. I was excited to have a firm Christian friend in Joanna, and I remember thinking how God had placed this girl in my life at such a perfect time.
J: The months rolled by and my friendship with Jesus grew, as did my friendship with Emma did. It was challenging, and I squirmed when she first asked me what I needed prayer for! Jesus used Emma to really challenge my faith, and I felt I could begin to ask her difficult questions too! Sweet revenge! I even began to regard other friends with the same care and attention that Emma had done to me. She had been a small picture of what Jesus was like, and I wanted everyone to experience it.
E: As Joanna mentioned, I didn’t hold back in challenging her in her faith. I encouraged her to be baptised, because I wanted her to experience the immense blessing of baptism that I had experienced. I could see how Jesus had been working in her life.
Our weakness is a vessel for His power, and our flaws a canvas for His grace.
So what does friendship look like in the Bible?
God uses broken people in His ministry and for His kingdom. The Bible has a perfect view of friendship and sets out a beautiful example in Jonathan and David.
Their friendship demonstrates great strength. Jonathan was a comfort to David in a time of need (1 Sam. 23:16). Jonathan was God's instrument! How incredible that God uses us to do His holy will! We must allow the Holy Spirit to speak life and hope through us to help us comfort our friends. We should also humble ourselves so that their words can change us too. By God’s endless grace, friendship means seeing each other not as rags, but as riches.
Friendship means caring. Caring deeply for someone involves being generous with your time and prayer. We pray for our best friends. C.S Lewis comments on how God views our friendships, “You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.” Similarly, the Bible says, “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathon loved him as his own soul.”
Jonathan and David is that they stuck together in spiritual battle (1 Sam. 19:1-4) and gave counsel and guidance to each other. David said to Jonathan, "What have I done? What is my iniquity?" (1 Sam. 20:1). If we see each other making a major mistake, we will speak the truth in love. In true friendship there is no room for gossip, just patience, prayer and love.
What a challenge.
Your friends should bring out the best in you. There is no room for jealousy in friendship. When Jonathan realized David would one day be king of Israel, he was not envious but content . Jonathan’s humility is an example of how we should love and honour each other. With God’s love in our hearts, we will want our friends to surpass us!
Think about your friends; are you a comfort to them? Are you caring towards them? Do you counsel each other and are you content with the friends God has placed in your life?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Emma and Joanna
Emma and Joanna are both 19. Joanna is at Chichester University studying Music, and Emma is currently in America on her gap year! They love giggling hysterically, dancing crazily, and learning more about Jesus! They are excited to share the wonderful news of Jesus with everyone they meet!