Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." ~A.A. Milne
It is genuinely nice to have a friend like Piglet has in Pooh - you can breath a sign of relief just knowing they are near. It is also gratifying to be that kind of friend for someone else.
Problems can come in sometimes, however, if those around us view our relationship with our friend as exclusive. We may start to be perceived as a clique. How do we develop deep and lasting ties with people without appearing aloof?
At times, we have to be open to new people joining our circle. It may be hard. Being vulnerable to an unknown person opens up a lot of anxiety within us. This is when we (as Christians) must rely on our relationship with the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Our ability to be discerning is sometimes faulty. We tend to jump straight off the cliff into bad relationships while inadvertently snubbing a potential friend who has our best interest at heart. This is a time to be still and listen. It may seem enticing to be with a crowd that insinuates perfection and superiority; in the end we all know where this lands us.
The love and friendship that scripture demonstrates for us is the kind that binds us all together. We cannot be bound together separately. In groups where there is disunion, we should be doing everything within our power to unify. Polarization is not of God. It works against everything that Jesus stood for. We, as Christians, must work persistently to wipe out anything that separates us from the love of God that is in Christ. Since we all are part of the body of Christ, if we do not love each other, then we are separated from the love of God. Separation from God, for us, is a sin. So, to keep from sinning and being separate from our God, we must be inclusive of all.
This leads back to my first question - how can we develop deep bonds with a few while still maintaining inclusion for all? By our actions, of course. People can tell when we are genuinely welcoming to them. They know when they are wanted in the conversation. This is truly a situation where actions speak louder than words. Our actions will betray a closed heart, even if our mouths are professing openness. So, let your words be few and your conduct be guileless. Getting to know someone new takes time and effort on our parts.
Let us be influenced by the Holy Spirit in our social lives, as we are in our spiritual lives. It only makes sense that we would want to be led by God to form the bonds that he chooses for us. Not all friendship roots are going to run deep, but that doesn't mean that the impression that we leave on someone is not lasting. How much better is an admirable impression than a sub-standard one?
16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.