October 23: The Art of Authentic Friendship
by Paul George
We are all created for relationships. We thrive when we live in community with God and with others. Why?
First, the nature of God is community. God is a living community in union with the Son and the Holy Spirit. You could say God is a family within himself—an active community loving each other. God’s very nature is a community of persons, never isolated, never alone, and always loving.
Second, God created us out of his trinitarian nature; out of community. At the beginning of the creation story in Genesis, we see the Trinity creating. It states in Genesis, “Let us make…” The “us” here is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit uniquely one and uniquely individual, actively and lovingly creating us.
Third, if God is community and God created us out of community, then he created us for community. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Thus God never intended, never wanted, and never created us to be alone. We are created to be in relationship with God, to actively participate in a friendship with Jesus and to be intimately guided by the Holy Spirit. God also created us to be in relationship with each other. He created us out of love and for love, to live in friendship and community.
For married people, community is first their family with God at the center. They are called to model the Trinity in their commitment to God, each other, and with their children. Yet they also are called to extend their community to others. Marriage isn’t just an inward love and focus on the family, but is also an outward extension of God’s love to others.
Those who aren’t married also are called to model their friendships, relationships, and community life with God at the center. It is true that authentic friendship and community can only be fully understood and experienced with God as the head, Jesus as the model of friendship, and the Holy Spirit as the guide to holiness. Authentic friendship is God-centered, loving each other as God loves, and desiring the good for the other.
What can we do to help young adults foster authentic friendships?
- The Church must invite young adults into the life of the community where they can experience authentic friendship. God’s people help provide healthy opportunities for young adults to experience God-centered friendship.
- The Church should reach out to young people. Many young adults are not going to church. They feel disconnected, unheard, and lost in the flock. The Church exists to help them find God, encounter Jesus, and walk with the power of the Spirit. Young adults can find God’s active presence in the world and in their lives in the sacramental life of the Church.
- Married couples should invite young adults into friendship with their family. Healthy, authentic families are safe places for young people to learn what it means to live, love, and serve.
What can young adults do to find and build authentic friendships?
- Embrace each unique season of life. The temptation for many of us is to look beyond instead of living fully in the season God has us.
- Be in an active relationship with God. Make Jesus a priority in your life. Too often we put off faith for tomorrow. We blame the Church or our families for what they didn’t or don’t do for us, but these excuses only keep us from the abundant life Jesus call us to when he says, “Follow me.”
- Be an active member of a parish. The Church needs you. Invest in your parish by offering your time, talent, and treasure.
- Build friendships with God as the center. We need others to help us become the person we are called to be. It’s important that we begin to build intentional friendship with faith as the foundation.
- Embrace a missionary mindset. Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbor. These two commandments are the guardrails that keep us focused on the life God wants for us. The word mission means to “be sent.” We are sent by God to love those around us. Community thrives when its goal is to strengthen each other to live for Christ boldly and lovingly in the world.
Download this article as a PDF here.
Paul George is a Catholic speaker, teacher, and author of Rethink Happiness. He has more than twenty years of experience as a parish youth minister, diocesan director, campus minister, and full-time evangelist.
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