On Church and Friends
Have you ever met a Christian who was reclusive? I don’t mean they live in a remote mountain cabin, some may even live in suburbs or cities and have busy jobs. It’s not their location that makes them reclusive, but their attitude. Maybe, they have been burnt by a pastor or church. They stop going to church and develop walls so they don’t get hurt again. This is not God’s plan for our lives.
The Lord created us for Himself, but He also made us for each other! “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV84) In today’s culture it is very easy to keep other’s at arm’s length. We choose emails or texts and facebook instead of face to face interaction. A truly intimate friendship requires deeper communication in which we hear the other person’s voice and see their facial expressions. Instead of just knowing information about each other, true friends know each other’s heart. When we honestly and openly relate to fellow believers, we become partners in building each other up in Christlikeness.
The perfect place to do this is at a church. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25, NIV84) Jesus left us a pattern for friendship. ““This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12–13, NASB95) In order to love one another, we must see each other and develop friendships. During a church service, there is corporate worship and prayer. There is preaching of the word and fellowship. You won’t find this sitting at home.
In order to love others, we need to be sensitive to their needs. We can’t be selfish or preoccupied with our own interests and responsibilities. Sometimes, church is like a hospital. People go there to get healing. They have burdens and heartaches and we must sense that in order to minister to them. “Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.” (Psalm 142:4, NASB95) There are times when we all need to know someone cares that we are hurt, lonely, bitter, or heavy laden.
A second quality to have in loving others is submission. “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21, NASB95) Submission is not just for spouses. We must be considerate of other’s temperament and personality. We are fearfully and wonderfully made each uniquely created by God. We should not try to change each other or control a relationship. We must learn to love and accept each other without being critical.
Friendships involve sacrifice. If we love one another as Jesus commanded, there will be times that we must sacrifice our own desires and plans in order to help a friend or one in need. It is not always convenient, and may play havoc with our pride. Also, be willing to admit when you are wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Another quality for intimate relationships is sharing. ““No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15, NASB95) Jesus made Himself known. He shared His life with the disciples. He taught them his heart and His father’s words. Being open risks vulnerability, but that is how we reveal who we really are.
We shouldn’t be reclusive. We must go to church. We must submit to one another, share ourselves, our gifts, our talents and callings. God has a plan for your life, and it is not sitting at home. We must be sensitive and willing to sacrifice for others. Learning that we can trust a friend may encourage us to open up more to the Lord as well. We need to be a friend as much as we need to have a friend. Find a good church. No one is perfect, until Jesus comes back. Go and support each other, learn, and serve by loving one another. God commands it, and you will be blessed.