Get by with a little help from my friends

Because we have some new folks in our church family these days and because many of us have been studying Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands together and because last week was the congregational meeting…because of all this, I’ve been thinking about the necessity of Christian friendships.

It has been said by many good pastors that “there are no Lone Ranger Christians.” What we really mean is that there are no healthy Lone Ranger Christians. To combat this common problem, here are a few ways the  Bible should shape our thinking about friendships:

  • The church as a body–Paul’s wonderful analogy of the church as a body in 1 Corinthians 12 has many applications. One of those is that no part of the body can ever constitute the whole body. To fulfill Jesus’ plan for our lives, we simply need to be an active part of a church family. Otherwise we have ears trying to act as toes, which never goes well. Independent Christianity is a hellish myth.
  • Consider some of the “one another’s” in the NT and realize that we simply can’t be relationally obedient if we are not investing in friendships within the church: bearing with and forgiving (Col. 3:13), teaching and admonishing (Col. 3:16), doing good to (1 Thess. 5:15), exhorting (Heb. 3:13), stirring up to good works (Heb. 10:24), encouraging (Heb. 10:25), praying for (Jam. 5:16), showing hospitality to (1 Pet. 4:9), serving (1 Pet. 4:10), showing humility (1 Pet. 5:5), greeting (1 Pet. 5:14), loving (1 J. 3:11), having fellowship with (1 Jn. 1:7). Not only do you need to be showing these things to others, you need others to show them to you! Do you desire love, forgiveness, hospitality and fellowship? Don’t think that all your spiritual needs will be met by Jesus directly. Often he uses secondary causes (i.e., other people) to meet those needs.
  • Proverbs 18:1 teaches “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Sadly, we have seen this Biblical truth affirmed in many lives: when someone pulls away from the church and cuts off relationships, something wicked is either going on or coming very soon. There is accountability and spiritual strength in Christian friendship while isolation is an amplifier of most temptations.
  • Consider how often we see team ministries in the New Testament church. Why send them out two by two? Because two can defend themselves! Because when one falls, his friend can pick him up! We have also seen great ministries begin well but falter because one person was way out ahead of the pack and consequently received no help when hard times came. Conversely, when ministry is done in teams, we see great success more often than not.

More can be written, but that’s enough to lead us to a few questions for thought and discussion:

Do you need to repent of believing the myth of independent Christianity?

Are you investing in friendships? (This needs to begin with husbands and wives, but it can’t stop there!)

Are you frequently praying for your friends and seeking ways to meet their spiritual needs?

Do you have a heart to find those in your church family who could truly use a friend?

4 Comments

  1. timbloedow January 31, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Great post. Thanks Jared. One question I’ve had recently is how do we understand the distribution of gifts in a tiny church plant, or maybe a tiny church that is a number of years old. We can have confidence that there are sufficient gifts for comprehensive church life in a “decent” sized church, but are some tiny churches missing a few toes and an ear and a thumb…? Is that a motivation to reach out and grow? Or do we exercise the faith to believe that all that is needed is there by the Spirit of God working in His people, even if only temporarily, with spiritual giftings changing as needed? I’m not sure what prompted my thinking on this, but I am leadning a I Cor. men’s fellowship study at our church and we’ll eventually get to chapter 12.

  2. timbloedow January 31, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    I know giftedness wasn’t the main thrust of your piece, but it was there and it brought these thoughts of mine to mind.

    • Jared Olivetti February 1, 2012 at 9:06 am #

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your question. Even though it’s off topic a bit, I know how important it is, especially in a church planting context.

      My brief answer would be that God equips every true church as a whole body to do his will. In her time of immaturity, a local church may be small enough that God equips people to be generalists rather than specialists…but I believe Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians would have us commit to the idea that each local church family is not only part of the body of Christ but itself constitutes a body.

      On a related note, this is one reason why it helps to be presbyterian. The presbytery ought not to constitute a congregation until they see it functioning as a body (small or large as it may be). And when God has constituted a congregation through the presbytery, that congregation ought to go forward with the assumption that we are a whole body, a whole family.

      I hope that helps. I would be glad to hear others’ thoughts on this as well!

      Jared

  3. timbloedow January 31, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    Did you know that one of the more recent projects Dough Phillips of Vision Forum is working on is on how God has used strategic friendships in history? I believe he’s been reflecting on, and studying, some of the strategic friendships of the Protestant Reformation.

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