Skip to Content

Pursuing Genuine Friendship




None of us are surprised to learn that just under half of all Americans say they experience loneliness and feelings of isolation.¹

This doesn’t come as a surprise because a lot of us, whether we are willing to admit it or not, have had those same feelings.

We live in a world where somehow we are more connected and yet more isolated than ever before. Technology, for all its good, has also given us a false sense of intimacy. We know how many kids the guy we sat next to in high school algebra ten years ago has now, but we no longer know how to engage with the cashier at the grocery store, much less have a deep, face-to-face conversation with those in our day-to-day lives. 

Our schedules demand we simply orbit the people in our household because Sarah needs to be taken to ¹¹soccer and Jake to drum lessons, and the bills need to be paid, the trash taken out, and and and. And even surrounded by people, we can feel utterly alone, even in the church. 

But have you ever stopped to wonder why? Why is there this longing, this ache in my heart that desires to be known intimately and deeply? And why, at the same time, am I so afraid of being truly seen and known? The short of it is we were made for relationship. 

We see in Genesis 1 that we were created in the image of the triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Since before time, God has been in relationship with himself. The Father loving the Son, the Son adoring the Father, and the Spirit delighting in the Son. As image bearers, we have that same desire for perfect union and communion. 

The astounding thing is the living God wants a relationship with us! It’s why we were made! And yet, God said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” Adam needed suitable companionship on this earth. 

So, from the very beginning, we see that we were made for a relationship with God and with others. And before the fall, before we decided we knew a better way, that this thing we’ve got going with the living God is great and all, but maybe there’s something better, maybe I could be my own god, we had the very relationship we so desperately long for today. 

Scripture tells us Adam and Eve used to walk with God in the Garden of Eden! Can you imagine? Now, we spend most of our days trying to recover what was and is and always has been ours since the very beginning.

Now, we search high and low for anything to satisfy this hunger to be known while at the same time hiding our true selves in the prettiest display of fig leaves we can design. 

Because when we decided we knew better than the One who created us, sin and shame entered the story. And now we live in fear of being too much or not enough. We live in fear of rejection. 

If they only knew what I have done. If they only knew the thoughts I’ve had. 

And so we construct outfits of pretense and masquerade as those who have it all together. We in the Church often being the biggest offenders. And yet, we wonder why we feel so lonely. Other times, we enter an authentic community but put undue pressure and expectations on our friendships. We forget that we were created by Jesus for Jesus. We were made for relationship, but if we put the expectations of what only our Heavenly Father can provide on human relationships, they will be crushed under the pressure.

Before pursuing genuine, authentic friendship here on earth, we must remember we already have the greatest friend we could ever have. There is One who sees everything we have done and knows every thought we will ever have. We consistently overlook him and reject him, and yet he chose to give his life to restore his relationship with us. Until we see and understand our gift in Jesus, we will spend our days asking the people in our lives to fill a void only Jesus can satisfy. 

The woman at the well understood this. In John 4, Jesus has a conversation with a Samaritan woman that includes him bringing up what was most likely her area of deepest shame. He tells her to get her husband and bring him back to the well. She tells him she has no husband. Jesus replies, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.” (John 4:17-18 NIV) 

Why on earth would Jesus do this? So that she would know how deeply loved she is. If she had gone home before Jesus brought up the husband dilemma, she could have begun to doubt Jesus’ love. Would he love me if he really knew me? But Jesus exposes the very thing she tries to hide. He wants her to know, “It is the real you that I love.”

 And it is from this place of love and acceptance that we can become a space for others. 

Henri Nouwen says, “As long as we are lonely, we cannot be hospitable because as lonely people we cannot create free space. Our own need to still our inner cravings of loneliness makes us cling to others instead of creating space for them.”² 

Oh to enjoy friendship as a space of helping, serving, caring, guiding, and healing! It is only when we live in reality that we are fully loved and accepted by Jesus, the One who knows us best, that we see friendship as a gift not to possess but to share. 

¹ Taylor, Harry O., K. M. Cudjoe, Feifei Bu, and Michelle H. Lim. “The State of Loneliness and Social Isolation Research: Current Knowledge and Future Directions.” BMC Public Health 23, (2023). Accessed November 7, 2023.

² Nouwan, Henri J.M. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Image, 1986.

Share Article

Article Topics

Scripture References

  • Genesis 2:18
  • John 4:17-18
Melodie Malone Melodie is a vocalist and band member of Passion. Along with Kristian Stanfill and Brett Younker, Melodie helps to lead and carry the music born out of the Passion Movement, which has over two decades of impact. She leads worship on Sundays at Passion City Church and many other Passion events and is heavily involved in The Grove, PCC’s ministry to the women of Atlanta.