This semester, my small group has been going through a book called Befriend: create belonging in an age of judgement, isolation, and fear by Scott Sauls. Each chapter is an essay on the way we can be friends with different kinds of people around us from children and eldery, rich and poor, bullies and perpetrators, and racial and sexual minorities. Almost every week, we discuss how Jesus interacts with these people in the Gospels and how we can imitate him in his love and interactions with the people around us. In John 15, Jesus called us friends and laid down his life for us, not because we had done anything, in fact we were his enemies, but through his blood has made us his friends. It has been encouraging to see the girls talk about how they can love and befriend everyone around them because of how they have been befriended by Jesus.
I want to share this story that one of the girls shared with us in our small group. She is in a contemporary social problems class at MSU and the professor is anti-christianity and very vocal about it. One day during class, she showed a documentary about Satanism and half the class left in the middle of the documentary because of how disturbing it was. After class, she went to talk to the professor about why she showed the documentary. After a couple minutes of talking, she asked the professor to coffee so she could get to know the professor better and continue the conversation about the professor’s “why” behind the class. My student said she went into the conversation not to change the professor's mind but to get to know her as a person and move towards her as a potential friend. At the end of the conversation, the professor told this girl that she would love to meet for coffee again sometime and that she hoped when the semester was over they could be friends.
This story is beautiful because it shows this girl moving towards someone who she does not have much in common with and getting to know them and their story. When she told us this in our small group my first thought was “Is this not what Jesus would do?”
Scott Sauls says it so well in his book “You will notice a common thread in each account of real friendship: real friendship happens when we move toward the people we are most tempted to avoid...as we learn a little bit more about what it could look like to be those who befriend and who create belonging in a world of judgment, isolation, and fear - the icing on the cake is that we will encounter Jesus in the process.”