Widen Your Circle of Friends

Janth B. English
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As women in God’s Church, when we look around our congregations we see people of different ages, different ethnicities, different socio-economic backgrounds, and different personalities. We can see that God is calling people from all walks of life. Certainly, God loves variety!

How about you? Do you love variety? Do your friends include people from different age groups, or with different socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, and personalities? It is only human to gravitate towards those who are more like ourselves. The more things two people have in common, the easier it is to strike up a conversation, talk about subjects of interest, and become friends. However, if you are doing what comes naturally, you may only be part of one clique.

Women tend to be more gregarious and, as a rule, we love to share our lives with others. Our outgoing behavior leads us to seek out other women with whom we can socialize. This is a good thing! We are to cultivate friendships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It pleases God to see His children getting along well (Psalm 133:1). However, if you find that Sabbath after Sabbath you are spending time with the same people—or that, during the week, you only talk to your inner circle of friends—then, without your realizing it, you have become part of a clique. The worst thing about a clique is that it excludes others and can cause hurt feelings, even if its members have no intention of doing so.

Jesus Christ, our elder Brother, set the example in all things—including sharing His life with others. He called as apostles several fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, and John; Matthew a tax collector; a political activist, Simon; a skeptic, Thomas, and other divergent personalities. He did not stick with just one mold. Christ ate with tax collectors and sinners (Luke 19:2–7). He spoke directly with women (John 4:7, 27) and had women among His followers (Mark 15:40–41), to a degree that put Him at odds with some in the society around Him (Luke 7:44–48). Christ rebuked His disciples because they did not want people taking up time His with little children (Matthew 19:13–15). He even told a parable praising the Good Samaritan, even though the Samaritans were hated by most Jews (Luke 10:25–37). Christ socialized with people from different ages, different backgrounds, and different stations in life; He truly was not a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11).

We can admit that it is a lot easier to get along with people whose personalities are more like our own. I am reminded of a very good friend of mine. She and I are as different as night and day, and we have had our disagreements from time to time. Yet I know that this relationship has caused me to view things differently, and I have been stretched in directions that I would not have gone on my own. This makes me think of the phrase “iron sharpens iron,” which Scripture uses to describe a godly friendship (Proverbs 27:17). Widening our circle of friends to include people from all walks of life can help us to broaden our views, teach us about different cultures, and learn how to get along with different personalities. In the process, we will be honing our communication skills and growing and maturing as individual Christians.

The opposite of being in a clique is being inclusive. We should resolve to be inclusive. Look around for those who are shy, a little awkward, or feeling left out and engage them in conversation. We will have all eternity to get to know each and every one of our brothers and sisters in Christ one day in the not too distant future. In the meantime, let us strive to include as many as we can in our circle of friends now.

  Originally Published: 20th August 2014