As I’ve been reading Befriend, I really loved how well these two chapters complement each other. Chapter 4: Befriend Prodigals and Pharisees really rubbed me the wrong way. In a good way! The modern pharisee is probably the type of person I struggle with the most, likely because I was one for sooooooo many years. I don’t like to be reminded of who I was before tasting God’s grace—prideful, self righteous, inward focused, fearful of failure. The Older Brother through and through. Not that I’m not still these things, but now that I have encountered Grace, I am free from trying to save myself and impress God. So when I read this chapter, I really just wanted to skip over it. I find befriending the heroin addict cursing in the church nursery much easier than befriending the pharisee.
Befriend the “Other”...This chapter made me uncomfortable from the very beginning when Sauls tells a story about a new couple who came to his small group: the husband was drunk, and the wife was clearly desperate for help. During prayer time, the husband prayed for 10 minutes about random, off-the-wall things, like wanting a Jolly Rancher and Klingons. As soon as the Amens were said, all eyes were on Sauls—how would he, as the pastor, respond to this man who had shown up in all his sinful glory? This man who didn’t fit in and was unable to conform to the group. Before Sauls could think of something to say, another woman in the group moved toward the drunk man and offered him a cookie, engaging him in conversation. That gave the opportunity for others to approach the man’s wife and offer her encouragement and help.
This week’s chapter, Befriend the One in the Mirror, spoke so loudly to my heart. I love, love, love to talk about shame! I went through my life misunderstanding what shame was. I thought shame was what you felt when you had committed a huge sin, like robbing a bank or pushing someone over the edge of a cliff. But what God has taught me in the last 10 years is that shame is what we feel when you aren’t believing who God says we are. Because of Christ’s work on the Cross, God has declared us righteous. If we have accepted his forgiveness, then he sees us like he sees his own son. He loves us and is crazy about us and delights to be in relationship with us.
Chapter 1, entitled A Case for Friendship is basically Sauls’ argument for why we need to work on creating face-to-face, authentic relationships. He talks about different kinds of friendships and why they are not ideal. For example, he says that with online relationships, the danger is that Our digital friends are experiencing part of us but not all of us. When online relationships take priority over real friendship, the result is usually more loneliness and isolation, not less.
Today is the first day of our Wednesday bookclub reading Scott Saul’s book, Befriend. If you don’t have a copy yet or haven’t started reading, no worries! You have all week to engage in the discussion. This is how it works: I’ll post some initial thoughts and recap some of Saul’s points, but then I will ask questions in the comments section.