Monday, September 22, 2008

Closer than a Brother... What is a Friend?

My folks used to say, you can never have too many friends. They were wrong. The Bible says Psalms 18:24 "A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." I wonder how many friends is good? And, who is the friend that sticks closer than a brother? If it is Jesus, do we need other friends?

I often ponder the things that I see go on in church. I am not looking for the negative, but I am looking for teaching that helps us put on the "mind of Christ" and find a deeper more meaningful relationship with Jesus and His people.

There are lots of teachings out there. From the the debates ranging from the origin of the earth to the end of the age. I guess that it is awesome that someone really cares about stuff like cherubim and seraphim. I am not even saying that I don't care about those things. It is just not at the top of my list. What is important is that we engage both God, and a relationship with His people, while attracting others to the faith. What good is "love one another" if we don't hang out with people that need loving? It doesn't really matter what the cherubim are doing if we are all alone.

When I read about the end times, or the end of this age, I think about how is it possible that Matthew 10:21 NAS "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child ; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death." That is pretty heavy. For sure, that is not loving one another! What is it in our society that will usher in this facet of the end of the age? I don't really have a name for it, but in my 50 years here on earth, I have seen a few changes. When I was 5, I could play with other kids in the neighborhood. We pretty much knew all the folks in our neighborhood of about 20 families. Today, my neighbor won't even respond to a friendly hello. The cul du sac is virtually empty most days, where ours was full of kids. There are kids around, I see them getting in the mini-van from time to time. And we've been out to say hello and chat with anyone in the neighborhood that will engage us. Thank God for Halloween, they came to us!

But what about the church? Aren't we under a different mandate? What about church friends? What about being a friend? Do we get to be too busy to care? Do we feel like it's someone Else's job to see how our church family is doing? How is it that we don't show friendship based on the following versus?

Accept one another (Romans 15:5-7)
Be Kind to one another (Eph 4:32)
Lay Down Your Life for one another (1 John 3:16)
Put up with one another (Eph 4:2)
Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
Love one another (John 13:34; 15:12; 17) Fervently(1 Pet 1:22)
Serve one another (Gal 5:13)
Submit to one another (Eph 5:21)
Wash Feet of one another (John 13:14)
Bear Burdens of one another(Gal 6:2)
Greet one another (Romans 16:16)
Admonish one another (Romans 15:14)
Confess Faults To one another (James 5:16)
Comfort one another (1 Thess 4:18)
Edify one another (1 Thess 4:18)
Exhort one another(Heb 3:13)
Forgive one another (Eph 4:32)
Sing to one another (Eph 5:19)
Pray For one another (James 5:16)
Spur on one another (Heb 10:24)
Judge not one another (Romans 14:13)
Envy not one another (Gal 5:15)
Provoke not one another (Gal 5:15)
Bite not one another (Gal 5:15)
Devour not one another (Gal 5:15)
Lie Not to one another (Colossians 3:9)
Defraud Not one another (1 Thessalonians 4:6)
Show no Partiality To one another (1 Tim 5:21)
Forsake not Gathering one another (Heb 10:25)
Put No stumbling block before one another (Rom. 14:13)

It's amazing don' t you think, that most folks can go to church for some long period of time and get nothing more then a friendly hello. My wife and I call this being "niced" to death. Sure, it's more then we get at the grocery store-- maybe, but is it really what God is all about?

I guess today I have more questions then scriptures or answers. What does it take to be a friend anyway, commitment, sacrifice, effort, time, love-- interest? Are we waiting for someone else to take the initiative? Really, what does it take to get with someone for a few hours and let them tell you what they are interested in? I can't even imagine the hours that Jesus listened to the 12. How close is close? Close enough to confess our sins to?

In the end, I think it is great if we have one or two friends that listen to us. It might good to have a few acquaintances to have some fun with too. Are you one of those people?


Tevet said...

Pretty cool!
If we were to maintain relationships in which we would be "Close enough to confess our sins to" would that make us accountable?

Accountability is a word I have heard overused and rarely applied.
It takes work, forgiveness and faith to have great friendships.

Jesus had many disciples. He hung out with the 12 most often. On seperate occasions He took aside Peter, James and John. And yet John was His closest friend. I believe this is a great pattern for us in our relationships.

When it comes to friendships quality will always be better than quantity.

dsjohndrow said...

I agree, accountability is overused. I find that most people still don't want to get caught sinning. I define it as the ability to catch yourself when wrong, and let someone else know.

Very nice insight on Jesus' inner circle.

That was the point of the blog, to have quality, but also initiate the process using the "one anothers" with folks that we know.

Thanks for the comment. Blessings.

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