Fractured Friendship

Fractures are everywhere. In the discarded shells of the eggs you had for breakfast. In the cement floor of your hardware store. In the X-rays that were taken after you fell off the monkey bars. In the earth itself near the epicenter of a quake. In your windshield after a pebble strikes. There are cracks and breaks around every corner of this fallen world. Perhaps most devastatingly are the fissures that occur between humans – fractured friendships.

For all the blessedness brought by friendship, we cannot escape the cruel reality that these relationships will sometimes end badly. Friends will turn to foes. Affection will be replaced by aversion. So today I’m taking a break from the sappy nostalgia of sunny friendships in order to ask what glimmer of gospel light might be seeping through the cracks in these lost relationships.

Fracture: the act or process of breaking or the state of being broken

We’re Not There Yet

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4). The New Creation will feature perfect and uninterrupted communion between God and man. As a result every human relationship will be marked by holistic health and tranquility – fractured friendships will be no more.

The New Creation has begun with Jesus and in believers (1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Cor. 5:17). But there is much that is yet uncompleted. We remain in an aching, groaning world filled with schisms of every sort (Rom. 8:22). Broken friendships remind us that we’re not home yet and press us into that prayer of Christ-loving desperation, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

We yearn for His return all the more when heartbreak lingers and friendship fractures. When we live out the lyrics to this song, our love for this temporary and fallen world decreases.

I had all and then most of you
Some and now none of you
Take me back to the night we met
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
Haunted by the ghost of you
Oh, take me back to the night we met

Our Need of Grace

Especially in our distraction-saturated culture, it can be so easy to float through life with hardly a thought of our own weakness, sin, and need of grace. Yet as we sense the pieces of a once-solid friendship slipping through our grasp, we find ourselves examining ourselves and asking God to convict and cleanse us of the selfishness that contributed to the split. 

Sitting among the ruins of a failed friendship, our instinct is to assemble a defense and compile a list of reasons why the fallout is the fault of our former friend. But deep down, we know better. By the Spirit’s work, we’re aware of our own guilt and the many ways we could have and should have been much more christlike in our interactions with that friend. Relational brokenness allows the perfect light of God’s purity to shine into the still dark crevasses of our hearts (1 John 1:5-10).

A Gospel Reminder

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the good news of Jesus is that it describes the way He gave His life, not to save His good buddies who always treated Him well, but to die for us and save us “while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8). When friendships fail, there will almost certainly be a great deal of hurt and animosity – the previous closeness only serves to amplify the feelings of pain and sense of betrayal. When those emotions are most acute and the ache throbs strongest, we have the opportunity to catch a small glimpse of Christ’s incomprehensible love.

He came to rescue and redeem His people while we were dead in our sin (Eph. 2:1-10), helpless in our wickedness, and incapable of any fully God-honoring thought (Rom. 3:9-18). We went astray, and in our time of farthest wandering, He came and sought us out (Lk. 15:4). Human reconciliation won’t always be possible, but the gospel of Jesus gives us a pattern to follow and a reason to worship. Jesus didn’t save morally neutral people. He saved betrayers, mutineers, rebels, turncoats, and treasonous renegades. The pain of fractured friendships is a living flannel graph of God’s redeeming love.

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