Saturday, July 23, 2011

the paradox of friendship

True friendship presents us with an interesting paradox: it cannot exist without the marriage of trust and forgiveness. I cite this as a paradox because forgiveness implies the betrayal of trust. If I would never violate another’s trust, I would have no need for forgiveness; yet I know I have never shared a real friendship with anyone in which I never sinned against them. I am not flawless. I say or do things from time to time that injure even close friends.

When we practice full trust, we let down our guard. But doing as such is risky, for no human is perfect. They will hurt you from time to time. Yes, when your guard is down--when you are trusting--they will harm you.

And they will need your forgiveness. To grant forgiveness is to begin to trust again. To trust is to remain in friendship. Friendship diminishes in direct proportion to the raising of defenses.

Hopefully you will have noticed that the capacity to forgive and trust must come from a power that is higher than human. Since none of us are perfect, we do not possess the perfect power to forgive and trust. Such power can only come from someone who has never sinned. Of course, there is only one who has this power. His name is Jesus.

Read his story in the Bible and you will see that he was not only trustworthy (he never sinned) but he also granted trust to his friends as he invited them into his kind of friendship. He himself could do this because he trusted first in his Father. Notice: the trust he granted his followers (which, in turn, gave rise to their friendship) was of a second order—it came after his trust in his Father whom he knew would never betray him.

This is how Jesus could forgive and let down his defenses as he gave up his life on the cross. With his Father as defender, Jesus had nothing to lose—including his life. The resurrection proclaims this.

Trust in God, therefore, bolsters human friendship--for in God we have both a friend that never fails and a friend that always forgives.

Let us learn to trust. Let us be ready to forgive. Let us be friends.

No comments: