Personally, I don't even claim to have former friends. Once people are my friend, they are always my friend. Love of others means that they can't be unloved. Often, the best friends are siblings, yet sometimes they abandon their friendship. Who gets in the middle? You guessed it - Satan! However, let's not over-empower the prince of the air. He only pollutes the atmosphere. We must inhale the pollution even as God gives us freshness to breath. That freshness is an atmosphere of love. Of course, I'm not speaking of the physical but the spiritual.
Look at the characteristics of friendships:
- Mutual love.
- Mutual pleasure.
- Common interests.
There are probably many more but these are all important. Agreement is not a trait of friendship. Friends can disagree amicably. In fact, the ability to love unconditionally is a key characteristic of friendship. Let's say that George does wrong. His friend Henry chastises him, not in a mean spirit, but out of concern. Henry may be George's best friend because friends want the best for friends.
The biggest conflict in friendship is he wronged me. We must remember that the self is our other god, and how dare anyone insult my god! For various reasons, friends sometimes do hurt each other. Friends are two discreet entities whose boundaries overlap. Since no one is exactly the same as the next, world's collide! Twins get along so well because their worlds are much alike.
The collisions occur because of human nature. We are born with the desire to nourish and protect the self. That's how we protect our little gods! When a friend infringes upon that self-worship, unless God has instilled a sense of understanding and forgiveness, world's collide. That's what Satan wants because he sows hate. Anytime a friendship is disrupted, there is only one winner - Satan. He smiles.
Right now if there are hard feelings against a friend, or even an acquaintance, you are doing your own will. Don't give Satan too much credit because it's you who chooses not to have unconditional love. You become an automaton doing what is right in your own eyes as you often do without regard to what God wants!
I'm sure some friend has indeed hurt you. It's easy to collide with other gods. Scripture tells us exactly the right recourse - love that other little god as you love your own god. God knows your fidelity to yourself, and he commands fidelity to others. He established the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Nobody wants to be hated, so we must never hate! No one wants to be the focus of gossip, so we should never gossip. No one wants to be ostracized, but yet even Christians do that. I have even had people in church who refuse to look my way! No wonder sinners stay out of church. That's where people often hate. Sinners can be hated outside!
People go to church because they believe in God or are have a spiritual hole which needs filled. People pick a particular church because they seek friendship. In order for that to happen, newcomers must be included. Inclusion is more than a "hello" and a smile. It's being allowed into the community of friendship. Most churches have independent groups of friends whose relationship to other groups is mere acquaintance. Others are not allowed into the groups. Those little groups are cliques, and can be made up of family members or friends. They can destroy the church!
If people come up missing in church, it's often for two reasons: (1) Worlds collided with other(s), or (2) they have not been included. Lack of inclusion is the greatest reason but many leave with hard feelings. People get offended easily and don't get over it. We sing, "We Have a Friend in Jesus" as we don't befriend others. It takes friendship with others to even be a friend with Jesus. His command is to love others if you love me. How people can go to church week after week and despise others is beyond me, even beyond God! They miss the whole point of Christianity if they fail to love.
What is it that Christians can do? They can quit being offended at the slightest transgression of another, even a huge transgression. The best way to overcome hurt is to forgive. Jesus even loves the transgressor, and so must we, but Christians often place the sins of others greater than their own sins. Satan smiles.
Friends trust each other. Something may sound preposterous but a true friend gives the benefit of the doubt. To assume dishonesty is not friendship. I like the expression accredited to Groucho Marx: "Are you going to believe me or your own lying eyes?" Our eyes do lie to us. We see what we want to see. Court testimony reveals that people have tunnel vision. We have the sub-conscious ability to focus narrowly, thus missing the wide scope of things. Trusting a person before discarding is a great trait; it's what you would want for yourself!
Jesus forgives, forgets, and continues to love. His friendship is not based on congruence, but is unconditional; we are to have the same type of love. To be a true friend of Jesus means befriending the unfriendly, and having mercy on the unmerciful. Friendship can never be based on goodness because then we all fail!