President's Blog: Being Friendly
The book of beginnings, Genesis, is full of surprises, insights, disclosures, and revelations which help us to understand God and ourselves. Among the many truths are several which teach us about the significance of relationships. We learn that God is a relational being. As the doctrine of the Trinity is later unfolded we learn more of this eternal community within unity. God as a relational being creates us in order to enjoy relationship. The cherished Westminster Confession is so rich and yet simple when it describes the chief end of man as to “glorify God and enjoy him forever”. We are made as relational beings in God’s image, and we are created to relate to God and to each other.
Genesis also describes the tragic and horrendous fall out that ensued when we turned away from God in disobedience. Everything changed – including our ability to enjoy relationships. Now we long for relationship, but we find ourselves to be clumsy, awkward, and prone to self-destruction. Our sin and selfishness has distorted everything. And yet, we continue to long for and crave meaningful relationships.
The wonder of redemption and reconciliation launches us back on the path towards meaningful relationships – with God and with each other. The application of this reality touches on every imaginable relationship, beginning with our relationship with God, but also includes marriage, parenting, friendships, community living, etc. The application I want to make is a simple one. This week our students begin to arrive and over the next seven days hundreds of young men and women will join us on our campus. Many are returning and will be looking to reconnect with old friends. Many are landing here not knowing anyone. Of these, some will make friendships quickly while others will do so more slowly. When they arrive – let’s show ourselves to be friendly.
Why? Because when we act friendly we are reflecting a value and characteristic of God. When we are friendly we are sending a message: “this is a place where you can find and be a friend”. When we are friendly, we allow ourselves to become conduits of God’s love and recipients of that same love. When we are friendly we are sending a message that it is normal to take the initiative to be friendly and to respond in kind.
Please allow me to be even more instructive in this application. When we walk down the halls, don’t look down or forward. Look around; look at the people you pass. Smile and say “hello”. Yes, I am serious. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this. I know in a mall we think it is a little “creepy” if someone says hello to everyone who passes by – but this is not the mall. This is our world. This is our home. This is our community. Let’s greet each other. Let’s greet returning students. And let’s greet our new students. Carve a little margins in your day so that when you have to move from one place to another you have the time to stop and exchange a little conversation.
Have a great day!