I have heard people say things like,  “I’m not a people person,” “I don’t like friends, ”  bla bla. 
One way or another we have one or more persons we relate more with so it’s safe to say such statements have alot to do with the quantum of ones circle. Mr A having small circles and Mr B having quite a handful. Whether  you fall into the first or second category one thing is important,  having the right friends in your circle.  Who is a friend? 
The Cambridge English Dictionary describes a friend as  a person who you know well and like alot,  but is usually not a member of your family. A true friend could even be closer than family. Proverbs 18:24. 
1. Love – One major attribute of friendship is love. Men shall know that we are disciples of God when we love each other. John 13 : 35Love is an important attribute in the Christian community. 
2. True  friends must look out for the well – being of each other. Job 2 :11 
3.  Comfort each other :A true friend will stick around in good times or bad times. When Job’s three friends heard of all the evil that had come upon him,  they came from their various locations to comfort him .Job.  2 : 11
4.  The growth factor :A good friend is a great influence in various spheres of your life. Remember wise friends make you wise. Proverbs 27 : 17

5.  Support : True friends must support each other,  bearing the burden of one another as a fulfillment of the Law of Christ. Galatians 6 : 2 These are some major attributes that define a true friendship. One can hardly overemphasize the need for having the right friends in your circle as this can make or destroy an individual.  1 Corinthians 5 v.13 emphasizes the dangers of  evil communication. 
Building   healthy relationships in the Christian community will mean getting the right friends in your circle and watching out for the attributes listed. While we are at it,  t’s important to look out for those who are liked minded and who can aid our spiritual and physical growth as stated in Proverbs 27 : 17 A friend who can share good times and bad times,  checking on one another being there for each other.  It should concern you when “Sister Jane” is absent from church for  days,  when “Brother Thomas” is faced with challenges affecting his well-being because  true friendship is care and support. 

Conclusively,  we must address the interesting question, HOW CLOSE IS TOO CLOSE? 
It’s usually  a mix of genders in our community as Christians,  we meet men and women. Did I also point out one could be great friends with older persons within the Christian community as well,  yes! There is nothing wrong with that  but  we must set  boundaries. 
Relating with  your female friend may be a lot different from relating with the male folk and vice-versa. Boundaries are important,  while you may be able to spend a night at your friend’s who is down and needs some care in the absence of primary caregivers even if “Brother Thomas” is bedridden and you both share great friendship you may have to call brother James to fill in. This does not imply lack of care but boundaries are important to avert the likelihood of immoral acts.  
There are times you may have to keep distance from your bestie who has gradually changed through an external influence  especially after open rebuke in accordance with Proverbs 27 : 5 and some energy to get them through a trying time has been futile. 
Although it’s  important to get them through a trying time,  you shouldn’t stick so long  with a friend who has taken to vices like smoking,  prostitution etc when they turn deaf ears to caution.  You will have to keep praying for them from a distance. Discern  when to disengage from a friendship that no longer serves peace, love or growth.  
Brotherly love has been encouraged in Hebrews 13 : 1,   It is not strange to find an older person being friends with a younger person but caution must not be thrown to the wind. 
A case in point will be the wonderful youth leader being friends with a younger youth.  This is a position of authority of some sort that without due care one could stand in the place of vulnerability.  Therefore,  boundaries must be set to ensure there is peace and  progress in the body of Christ. 
Avoid holding  hands which could get more intense not forgetting  the wonders of “chemistry” no closed-door meetups that could give way to the popular slang “it was the devil” we must do this for ourselves it will help us grow and stay ready for the coming of Christ and for the body of Christ at large,  we must do things right being the perfect example , such that leads people to Christ. 
Cheers to great friendships may we  have them and may we be nothing less of what we desire. 

Merit Gogo -fyneface , Editor, Sarima Magazine
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