The danger of friendship

Friendship is all good, right? How could there be ‘dangers’ from friendship?

I was on a beachmission team when I was 18. It was a really nice team, with some really nice people on it. There were four people I remember. Two boys and two girls. I liked each of them very much.

Trouble was, when the four of them were together, they didn’t talk to anyone else outside of themselves. Trying to join the conversation was impossible. They had so many in-jokes, that they were laughing when no-one else was. They looked so popular, so beautiful, so happy. I wanted to get to know them, but they just weren’t interested.

In their own minds, I think they just saw themselves as four people who got along very very well and had a lot in common, and laughed a lot. But everyone else around saw them as a clique!

How do cliques happen? Well, personal space friendship is selective. If you say “these people are my friends” you must also say “these people are not”.

Close friendship comes when two or a few people discover they have some insight or taste in common which others do not share. And, as we said, we all need this kind of friendship.

But here’s the thing. The closeness of personal space friendship needs to be expressed in personal space.

The four people in my beachmission team had every right to be so friendly to each other. They were each in each other’s personal space. But they didn’t realise that mealtimes and social times with the beachmission team were social space. They needed to act appropriately in the social space.

They could still share friendship, but they needed to be aware of others and be welcoming to outsiders in such a social space.

The same danger of being exclusive applies to couples. My brother had a 21st party for about 50-60 people. He invited a couple from uni – friends of his. I remember them, because they were so unfriendly. They weren’t interested in anyone else from the party. They were only interested in smooching and dancing with each other. They were acting intimately in a social space, and it was disturbing because it excluded every one else. In a way, couples who do this create their own exclusive clique.

Cliques happen because people do not have an attitude of love for others that is appropriate in a social space. They are more interested in carrying on their personal relationships in a public and social space. That’s enjoyable, and probably fun for those people who do that. But it is not fun for everyone else. It excludes.

If you’re in a clique, it’s so easy to forget other people. You hardly even see them. But love is seeing the people around you. Loving is including people. Loving is acting appropriately so that everyone is respected and given the honour due to them as God’s creation.