Those in the Church of God claim to have the truest friendships that the word can ever exemplify. Friendships in the COG are deeply true because friends are united in a single core of belief. The "truth" binds hearts to one another. But, does it really?
Friendships in the COG tend to be more "acquaintances" than ever being deep and loyal. Acquaintances will slap you on the back and have a beer with you, but will in the next moment vilify you if you ever dare to question doctrine or the church. Just look at what happened to the Scarborough family in Living Church of God. They were publicly vilified, lied about and smeared with one accusation after another. When church leadership lowers the boom, friends scatter like cockroaches when the kitchen light is turned on.
We have all heard the stories in various blogs, newsgroups, and websites on how when a person decides to leave the church because they have proven it wrong that their friends immediately turn their backs on them. They will see their friend at the store, or in the park, or walking down the sidewalk and the so-called friend will ignore them and look away. Facebook is filled with numerous secret or hidden groups where hundreds, if not thousands of former church members share horror stories on how they were treated, with some of the vilest things coming from the ministry, who are supposed to know better.
Is it truly possible to have a Proverbs 17:17 friendship in the Church of God?
The Dynamics of Friendship:
God has given us vital keys in the Bible to help us meet our most important needs as human beings—including how to cultivate friendships. The Scriptures reveal that if we want to have friends, we must learn how to be friendly and remember that true friends are supportive during difficult times (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24). A friend is someone we can confide in and share important thoughts and concerns with (John 15:15). Real friends may not always agree with us, and sometimes they will tell us things about ourselves and our plans and actions that we may need to hear, but might not want to hear (Proverbs 27:6, 17). The Bible also cautions that we should choose our friends carefully because we will be influenced by the company we keep (Proverbs 12:26). Abraham chose to be a friend of God by obeying His instructions to leave a former way of life (Genesis 12:1-4; James 2:23) instead of being a “friend” of this world and its ways (James 4:4). Jesus told His disciples, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Let’s seek to be a “friend” of God by following His instructions, and a true friend to those who will not influence us in the wrong direction.Have a profitable Sabbath,Douglas S. Winnail