One Friend At A Time

One Friend at a Time? (Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II

And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked [him], and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. (Luke 23:10-12 emphasis added)

Our passage is a horrific example of how the ungodly make friends; they hated upon Jesus together, and in some diabolic sense were conjoined. However, there is an even deeper mystery here. How could two people turn their hate on a third person and end up with a friendship as the result? We will explore that question in this entry. 

One of the most frequent search queries to hit the Girded Mind blog is the phrase, “one friend at a time.” From this, I gather, that it is evident that people are concerned about this phenomenon. Looking around the Web, I have found relatively few results along this line. Typically, the issue comes up in forums where women are asking why their daughters can “have only one friend at a time.” This is sometimes followed by a response of shock, as if the problem is some rare thing that no-one has heard of. Some people were wondering what the clinical term is for such behavior (if there is one I have not found it yet). Some answers are dismissive as if it’s just the child’s personality or that the behavior is completely normal. If having “one friend at a time” is normal, this world is in deep trouble.  

The truth is, most of us have known about this type of people since we were kids. We’ve been watching this behavior go on since grade school. How does it work? You have a friend one day, and things seem to be well; suddenly, a “new” person comes along and your friend is not your friend anymore. It’s almost as if your friend was switching boyfriend or girlfriend; the old relationship is basically “off,” and the new one is “on.” The new friend gets all the attention, while you, the former friend, are treated like an outcast. They will even avoid you as if they are afraid the new friend will be jealous to see you talking to them. Anyone who has ever experienced this knows how awful it is. 

Walking On Egg shells

In the age of social media, the situation is even crazier. Jealousies in friendships are so profound, that you best not be caught liking some post that your old friend made, or you may lose the new friend  (get de-friended). As if to ask, “You mean to tell me that if you don’t like somebody, I can’t like them either?” That’s right. What happens? The person caught in this trap becomes a slave to the new friend (or jealous friend). It can border on an abusive relationship. In fact, some people don’t need a jealous boyfriend or girlfriend whose “controlling them” (a euphamism generally used on men and women who refuse to allow their significant other to flirt around); their regular friends are controlling them! If they catch you “liking” the wrong post, you’re done! Game over. See ya!

From Friends to Enemies

What happens after the “breakup”? Not only are they no longer your friend, they are no longer friendly towards you. In fact, sometimes the person will treat you like a friend until “so and so” comes around; and then, suddenly, the person acts like they don’t know you or don’t like you. These are destructive games that people play. Sadly, most people who do it have never been confronted about it. It’s normative to them. They may not even notice they are doing it. Nevertheless, there is no need for a degree in psychology or sociology to identify it; we have probably all seen it, or been on the receiving end of it. We thought we offended them, but don’t know what we did wrong. Often that is not the issue at all; it is simply that the person grew up thinking it’s acceptable to allow only one friend at a time in his or her life.

Mono-friend Christians?

We expect to see this thing in grade school, Junior High School, High School, and peradventure College; but what about in the churches of God? The world will do what the world does; but what about those who are professing the name of Christ? What if this type of thing happens in a local church, a youth group, or a cell group? What happens when a young girl attends youth group and one of her so-called Christian friends does this to her? You’re right. She is liable to leave the church and become bitter towards God and Christianity. 

When we see these things going on, is it time to ask our favorite pop psychologist what’s wrong or has God spoken to the subject? Some take this as a harmless behavior, but the truth is, it is extremely destructive. At 10 years old, it is bad enough, but when the behavior continues into adulthood, one has failed to put away childish things. 

As a youth pastor I would see young people doing this type thing and suddenly there is a rift in the youth group. Kids have even been known to quit church over a person befriending them one day and then acting as if they had leprosy the next. It causes people to wonder what has happened, why they are treating them this way. Questions and doubts start swirling just like the hall way in 7th grade. And after the de-friended person has searched their own heart and conscience to see if they have caused the “falling out” and they come up empty; they start to think the other person is a snob, and if that’s what “Christians” are like I don’t want any part of it. 

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t want a friend who wants to be my friend and only my friend — to the exclusion of anyone else. There is something seriously wrong with a person like that. There is something profoundly lacking in their upbringing. As Christians, we are called to love one another — not to divide up and decide who we can be friends with on any given day. The time would fail to scratch the surface of how destructive this type of behavior actually is. It is like a plague and must be stopped.

Were Made Friends

Our passage in Luke 23 is perhaps one of the most psychologically insightful passages in all of the Bible. It reveals the depravity of man in a way that could almost leave the reader in tears. Understand that these two leaders did not apologize to one another for their past differences; they agreed on the matter of the condemnation of Christ, and in that agreement against one man, were “made friends.” Wicked men cannot love one another: this belongs to the disciples of Christ. (Clarke) So we have here a sort-of “demonic propitiation.” They sacrificed Christ to mend their own fences. How sad it is that two people at odds have to make amends at a third parties expense; nevertheless, it happens every day. Numerous are the relationships in this present evil world that subsist by devouring a common enemy. If you have to find a common enemy and destroy him or her in order to be friends with a person; you need to get out of that relationship.

Illegitimate Reconciliation

This is what ungodly and carnal men and women will do — rather than simply love one another. They will be at enmity one day, and then suddenly agree against another person the next day and become friends again. Have you ever seen this? Maybe you have done this? God forbid! Will you notice our passage, there is no apology. No, “I’m sorry Herod” No, “I was Pilate.” No, “How can I make this up.” No, “I will try not to allow it to happen again.” None of those things. These two men put their hand and mouth together against a common enemy and then are suddenly “made friends.” Really?

There is a strange mystery here. Paul touches it in Galatians 5:15; But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Imagine biting and devouring people as a means of building yourself up and maintaining other friendships. What dastardly behavior! Men and women who really hate each other at heart need a steady stream of blood on the altar of their relationship to give it the appearance of a friendship. They cannot speak to each other except to destroy some other soul. They have no like for each other, so they find a common enemy and agree against her or him. What could be more vexing?

Illegitimate Friendships

When a person recognizes that they are not eye to eye with another person, often they will seek to get back into favor. The question becomes, how will they do it? Like a child that spilled paint in the garage, they know that if they can get a gift for mommy she may not be as angry. What happens? The child picks a flower for mom to make her feel better about him. This is instinctive. We all have this inward sense that if we can just find the right price we can mend a broken relationship or regain favor with a person. (R. Bailey) Gifts are often used in this way. It is really a sad thing because the person giving is doing so typically out of a fearful and desperate sense of duty. This is a very human thing to do. Herod and Pilate were made friends as they put their hands against Jesus. He was a common enemy. This was the price needed to get back into each others good favor. If I might so say, this may happen among the unregenerate, but it ought not so to be in the churches of God. How can a person look the other one in the eye after doing such things?

Christian Reconciliation

Christians are to love one another and reconcile by forgiveness. No Christian should have to be propitiated in order to get back in the good graces of another believer. That is to say, they should not have to buy gifts or do some service to keep a relationship going. They need to simply love one another. People with bad attitudes need a steady dose of ‘propitiations’ to keep them in a good mood. In time it is realized that no price brings about a lasting result. You buy gifts, you do good deeds, and there is no change. This becomes a very high maintenance relationship. I often wonder if this is not how God is frequently treated; so long as the blessing flows the people praise the Lord; but when hard times come it’s, “what have you done for me lately.” May we never be high maintenance friends.

One Friend at a Time?

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34ff)

I was watching a video recently that was a satirical depiction of a young girl bound-up on the cellphone and Facebook, ridiculing life and rolling her eyes at everyone and everything. It reminded me of being in high school when I would see young girls (and sometimes young guys) have one friend one day, “diss” them and get another friend the next day. The drama was incredible! When I asked about the behavior I was always told, “It’s because she can only have one friend at a time.” Really? Can a human being be so shallow that they can only entertain one friendship and the rest of the people have to sit back and be dissed?

 I’m not referring to spending time with folks or anything that takes any real effort; I am referring to the attitude that once a person gets a new friend the rest of their friends are suddenly being intentionally ignore — even when spoken to. Friends are not socks that you can put on for a day and then switch out for a new pair. Jesus called the disciples His “friends”, but you never had to worry about him speaking evil about one of the friends to another friend. The Lord Jesus was able to have twelve close friends at one time! He didn’t betray even one of them. I’m persuaded to believe that Satan is the type of person that can only have one friend at a time; leaving all the others to continually feel betrayed while making the one “feel special.” 

I doubt if one were friends with the Devil he would allow one to befriend anyone else. How can we know? Look around. You see this behavior almost celebrated in our times. It’s hard to be real in this generation. I’m thankful to have friends I can be real with; but not everyone is so fortunate. Why? Because multitudes are destitute of Godly friendships and have succumbed to the drama driven sassiness and would be pop-friendships depicted on soap operas and reality TV shows. May the Lord help us!

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