827. That’s how many contacts I have in my phone. And I just learned that there’s not a way to mass delete contacts, which I will have to email Apple about because cleaning up my contacts now seems like a Godzilla of a chore! The worst part? I don’t remember a quarter of them.
Why do we fill our lives with acquaintances when every single one of us just wants to be fully known?
For a long time, I wanted to be just like everybody else. I remember stretching my dollars in Hollister just so I could wear the same things my classmates were wearing (…my funds paid for one shirt on the sales rack). I wanted to be recognized as part of a team so I tried out for volleyball even though I’d only played with my stepdad in the yard (…I definitely didn’t make the team). The only person I wasn’t trying to intentionally match up to? Jesus.
My favorite thing about Jesus is that he was surrounded by people who claimed to understand him, but he was totally alone in his mission. He was born on earth, but he had a heavenly Father. He had a circle of followers (one of whom betrayed him, several of whom denied him), an inner circle of closer followers, and then the public who both hated and despised him (ultimately, crucifying him).
If we just look at the human side of Jesus, I bet he felt like an outsider sometimes.
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had not beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised for and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our inequities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.Isaiah 53:2-5
Despite all that, he knew everything that was going to happen to him and he did it anyway. He sought out friends and followers because he knew that his mission couldn’t continue unless he trusted a small group of friends with the legacy. Not to mention, God said that it wasn’t good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18) and he knew he wasn’t excluded from that.
Moving to Texas, I had no community. I knew that I needed a strong group of people around me in those influential years, so I asked God for a church and a bible study group. He graciously gave me both, and those first two years were the BEST years of my life. I grew so much and even though I got hurt here and there, it was totally worth the experience and connections that I still have today.
What changed? I wasn’t trying to fit in by wearing the right clothes or liking the same hobbies, I just wanted to know Jesus and do the next right thing with a group of people that loved Jesus, too.
I want to challenge us to seek out new friends with intentionality in developing true community. There’s a lot of things that we let happen passively and I don’t think finding a solid group of people to do life with should be one of them.
And you know what? It’s okay for people to move on and outgrow you. What’s important is that we hold onto our friendships with open hands so that God can use them however he pleases.
Reconnect with some acquaintances, prune your Facebook friends and your contact lists, and let’s simplify our lives to make them healthier and holier. Who knows? Maybe something new will begin to grow!