If you set out to purposefully choose a new best friend, what would you be looking for? For your entertainment viewing, Paris Hilton has put her best friend criteria out there for the world to see in her new TV reality series, Paris Hilton's My New BFF.
Starting with sixteen potential new BFFs, each episode of the MTV series follows the high drama of Paris testing, manipulating, provoking, demeaning and rejecting these wannabee jet-setters.
You might be shocked to learn what she's looking for in a friend (or maybe not). The BFF song lyrics opening the show each week target some great BFF qualities. But as she unpacks her criteria week after week and stages various activities and 'tests,' it's becoming increasingly apparent that her real list of desirable BFF traits are stacking up very differently. The most recent 'tests' she's put her auditioning BFFs through appear to value: gorgeous looks, a willingness to be bullied (by her), an inclination for snitching and vindictive back-stabbing, top-notch partying skills and the ability to use sexuality to manipulate others. Whoa!
While there's plenty to be outraged by here, the series does raise an interesting question. What makes for a great BFF? Clearly, it's not the character qualities Paris is deliberately eliciting. Genuine friendships are born out of relationship and based on shared experiences, common interests and an authentic sense of finding a 'kindred spirit.' Not as a result of being taunted, tested and tried while others around you are being crumpled up and discarded like a used Kleenex. Best friend relationships go deep and are grounded in mutual care and concern.
Granted, healthy friendships may be hard to find and even harder to maintain, but the Bible provides us with some insights on the key ingredient that will help point us in the right direction. Check out these verses for a short list of qualities that will yield deep, meaningful friendships with others:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
To be a good friend to others, the Bible challenges us to be committed, selfless, non-envious, humble, patient, generous, forgiving, grace-giving, God-focused and in it for the long haul. Pretty much the opposite of what you'll find going down each week on the BFF series!
The great news is that as Christians we know someone who models this kind of selfless, giving, personal relationship – Jesus. The Apostle Paul describes Jesus' offer of friendship this way in Romans 5:10-11:
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (NLT).
When you strip all the peripherals away, it's mind-bendingly amazing to think that the God of the Universe considers us friends because of what Jesus did on the cross. And He pours His power, grace and love into us, enabling us to in turn reach out to others with His offer of friendship.
So take some time this week to talk with your friends about God's amazing desire to call us His friends. Here are some ideas to help you move the conversation in a spiritual direction:
• Ask your friends if they've heard of or watched the MTV show Paris Hilton's My New BFF? If so, what do they think of Paris' approach to finding a new best friend?
• How would you go about looking for a best friend?
• What do you value in friendships? Why?
• Did you know the Bible has something to say about what contributes to healthy relationships? Share what 1 Corinthians 13 has to say.
• Did you know the Bible tells us that through Jesus' gift of salvation we can become 'friends of God'? Share what that looks like in your life!
Never in our own strength and determination can we live up to finding or being the perfect BFF. But we have the example and the provision of One who can deliver – Jesus. He promises His friendship by extending His gift of mercy to us so we can experience a restored relationship with God. Share that amazing news with a world that's starved for deep, meaningful friendships.