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The Dark Side of Friendships

Dr. Stephen Phinney

My mentor, Dr. David Jeremiah, said,

“Everyone we meet is a hero waiting to happen. When Jesus saw people, He envisioned their potential. No respecter of persons, He associated with people from all walks of life.”


My reply was not as positive. “My experience with “friends” typically results in betrayal, Christianized lies, fake love, and a bewildering sense of ambiguity.”

Let’s be truthful. There is a dark side to all friendships. People, in general, indwelt by Christ or not, have a dark side (flesh) that enjoys demanding control over relationships. Seriously, look at Jesus’s supposed friends. The only disciple that remained loyal to the end was the “beloved John.” One disciple sold him to the enemy, and the other ten disciples hid in the dark corners of ambiguity. During all this, Jesus’s Father stepped back from His Son while hanging on the Cross – resulting in Jesus “feeling” such loneliness that he said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Like most outspoken Christians, I have had my share of betrayal and isolation in friendships. God knows that when we make His priorities our priorities, our relationships become opportunities for refinement. None of God’s Bridal members are chosen for His Son based on faithfulness and loyalty. Jesus knew ahead of time that 90% of His disciples would fall asleep on Him in His darkest hour. He also knew that each would hide behind the skirt of fear when associating themselves with their Savior under pressure. However, He also knew this was the refining process of devoted, unmovable loyalty that Christ could count on after His resurrection. It was as if betrayal was a phase for loyalists. Or maybe He needed to act out His own words, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

Did His disciples persecute Him? Without a doubt. Betrayal is the type of persecution that His enemy, Satan, has used on Him since he tried to pick a fight with Jesus before the world’s creation. Betrayal is the action of disloyalty, treachery, perfidiousness, fake faith, faithlessness, falseness, duplicity, deception, and double-dealing. My favorite is “double-dealing,” which is a covert action of making a deal with the devil while presenting a deal with the God of the universe. Putting that in human relationships is making a deal with the “accuser of the brethren” while using fake love with fellow Bridal members of Christ to front them with their hangnails. Ouch.

There is only one thing to do with betrayal: Say “thank you” and embrace it. I have learned that when betrayal arrives in a relationship, God’s refining fire is delivered by His Holy sovereignty and love for me. Since He knows these relationships can ultimately become faith heroes in the long run, He is relentless until we become motivated to turn an enemy into a friend. Jesus had to do that with 90% of all of His relationships. The refining fire is to be remembered – it reminds us of the cost Jesus paid for being our Friend and Savior. I agree, the world says everything happens randomly, without reason, but Jesus reminds us that God works all things together for good.

Certainly, betrayal doesn’t have an ounce of “feel good” while perpetrating in our lives. If you are like me, the temptation is to run and hide – not hug it like a faithful friend. Yes, I said “faithful friend.” In a world that views betrayal as an excuse to detach, we must realize that betrayal is outnumbered by the reasons God has appointed for the betrayal. As soon as I see a “friendship” begin to look more like the “accuser of the brethren,” I do something that appears to b