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Relational Expansion

Growing up, I found it essential to have groups of friends to spend time with, go to the mall, or just grab a milk tea together. Each year, I would always look forward to the first day of school to find out who was in my class, who’d be sitting next to me, and which new friends I’d make. New friends were always welcomed!

As I have gotten older, I’ve seen my group of friends shrink. People move away, life situations change, or maybe the friendship is no longer a priority. I remember in graduate school, when we finished our program, my classmates were my main source of support. We suffered through lows and celebrated highs. We were comrades in arms and had accomplished something great together! But after we graduated, the ebbs and flows of life took over. Some moved, others started families, and others made more friends within their new jobs. As I reflected on this, I felt so many emotions—I thought we would always remain close. Moving on from that experience, my perspective of relationships began changing. I was disappointed. I thought to myself, maybe it’s not worth investing in people. Eventually, something always happens, and all that time and energy is wasted.

Living in San Francisco, a very transient city, people always come and go. It almost makes one feel like investing in relationships isn't worth it. It takes so much effort to love and care for others. It requires extending oneself beyond what is comfortable, beyond what is convenient. If it is so difficult, then why do it? Why should we? Wouldn't it be easier not to expand in our relationships?

We do it because God asks it of us. Relationships are far from convenient, though they are the best way we can invest our time, money, and energy. We know this because Christ modeled it. As Jesus came down, He extended Himself to close friends who would eventually betray Him. He did it knowingly and still committed to living among us, showing us God in the flesh, and ultimately dying on the cross so we could understand the depth His love.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” - John 15:12-17

Now when I think about friendships, I regain my youthful excitement by seeing people as new, God-ordained opportunities to love and serve, rather than people who’ll simply come and go. I try to think of the ways I am able to help and bless them, and not the energy needed to make time for them.

Let’s pause and reflect. Who has God brought into your life in the past week, month, or year? How is the Holy Spirit prompting you to invest in this person? What worries or fears can you bring before the Lord that may be holding you back?

We never know the impact we have on people’s lives, or the impact they may have on ours. We won’t know unless we choose to make these relationships and we take our cue from the One who came down to love and save us.