“I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends”

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

 Albert Schweitzer

I believe that true friendship has an incredible value.  Throughout the Bible we read of friends for good.  I’m personally grateful for good friends, and I need to cherish and esteem them more than I do.  A true friend is one who sticks with you no matter what the circumstances–his or her love is not dependent on things going well. (Which I suppose is the point, for they rarely go well.)

Many of us are profoundly handicapped– mentally ill or impaired physically. And quite often we are hungry for help. Case in point– the page that gets the most views on this site is “24/7 Crisis Lines.” We get 90-100 views every single day. This tells me that there is great need. Could it be, that maybe the Holy Spirit provides for us in this way?

“As iron sharpens iron,
    so people can improve each other.” 

Proverbs 27:17, NCV

“A friend loves you all the time,
    and a brother helps in time of trouble.”

Proverbs 17:17

“It is only the great hearted who can be true friends. The mean and cowardly, can never know what true friendship means.” 

Charles Kingsley

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (3)

Is He Your Friend, or a Doctrine?

“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”

  ~D.L. Moody

Friendship with God can be a liberating secret. It releases us from the terrible bondage of religion and ritual with all its negative connotations. Intimacy with our Lord will carry us beyond creed or doctrine to the place of true communion.

It’s not that the Law is bad, but in the intense light of God’s grace it’s a poor substitute. We value legalism, and that is precisely what we believe when we bypass the relationship. Doctrine is a good servant, but a poor master. Grace always trumps legalism.

We evangelicals talk big about “a personal relationship.” That is indeed crucial. But few be the believers that walk in a daily friendship with their Savior. That is truly a tragedy.

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”

John 15:15, NLT

Friendship with Jesus will bring true guidance. He shares secrets and wisdom to his friends. We are brought into a true knowledge of the Kingdom through the relationship of friendship with the King. We are not slaves– or drones, slavishly serving out of slavish fear.

We are His friends.

Jesus wants to confide in us; sharing mysteries hidden by time and sin. And his kingdom is full of amazing perplexities! He is looking to bring us into a willingness of a daily communion.

He will heal our wounds, and forgive all our sins. He is truly our savior as well as our friend.

Friendship comes with a price. It means we are now tethered to the Lord. That can get old, especially when I want to do my own thing. I will continually have to lay things down, and choose to accept tether and follow Him.

But my soul now has a best friend.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

The School of Friends

fingerFriends1

“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”

1 Samuel 18:1

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

Ruth 1:16

The quality of our lives can be measured by our friends.  It takes some of us a very long time to understand this.  Often we have this mistaken belief that other things are immensely important, and we strive to make these qualities relevant and significant.  But the Spirit of God is on a whole different board, and He is wondering why we aren’t there with Him. It’s time to catch-up!

To be a friend– a companion, is a significant undertaking.  It involves channeling ones love and commitment to someone other than family.  If we have become someone’s friend, our dedication to that person can be measured. (Not everything is intangible).  So what will friendship require?  My answer is simply this:  All that is needful for the present moment.

Something ‘clicked’ inside of Jonathan when he talked with David.  There was something of understanding and an affinity that was created between them.  As I read this account I realize that this friendship was what was exactly needed for David to survive the conflicts he was coming into.  Now it certainly wasn’t the full answer, but friendship would certainly help lift him above the fray.

Ruth had this exceptional relationship with Naomi.  Ruth was locked on and quite intensely has made a strong verbal and volitional commitment to Naomi.  She is so sincere here as she makes a vow to follow and to serve.  She ‘shuts down’ her agenda and goals in order to live life through Naomi’s experience.  What a generous humility and gentleness!

“Don’t forget your friend or your parent’s friend.”

Proverbs 27:10

Both Jonathan and Ruth embraced their new calling.  Friendship is a cavern chiseled out to be an amphitheater.  It is a whole bigger and more expansive than we ever thought possible.  Its borders and boundaries go far beyond than a Wednesday night poker game with your buddies.

Recovering this new understanding of biblical friendship can be revitalizing.  When we see the fruits we wonder how we will ever transverse the path of discipleship without companionship.  It is noteworthy to point out that Jesus sent out His disciples ‘two by two’.  Sometimes, it will involve a radical (extreme) shift in thinking.  However, there can be an incredible boost coming from this relationship.

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”   

Helen Keller

*

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1-2

Love as an Action Verb

When I first started writing this post in my head, before I had posted it on my blog, Linda Kruschke’s Blog, back in 2009, in my head the title was “Love Is an Action Verb.” But as I thought more about it I realized there is more than one kind of love, and that love AS as action verb was just one – and in my opinion the best – form of love.

Four Kinds of Love

In our impoverished English language we use the word love in many different ways. I love my spouse, I love my dog, I love chocolate, I love my new shoes, I loved that movie I watched last night, I love God. Surely we don’t have the same feelings about all of these things, yet we use the same word. In the parts of the Bible that were originally written in Greek, there are four different Greek words that we translate love:

  • Storge – refers to the love that is felt between family members and close relatives.
  • Philia – refers to the love that is between friends.
  • Eros – refers to deep emotion or passion that is felt between lovers and spouses.
  • Agape – refers to the kind of love that God has for us and is what I mean by love as an action verb.

Agape is a kind of love that is about giving, not about getting. God showed us what agape is by His incarnationa as Jesus Christ and by His death on the cross to pay for our sins. Agape is not just a feeling, it is what God is. He acts towards us in the way that He does not because of how He feels about us, but because of who He is; because He chooses to love us with an agape love.

Agape is a type of love that we can, if we choose, combine with any one of the other three kinds of love. We can go beyond how we feel about others and truly love them in the way that God loves us. C.S. Lewis put it this way in his wonderful book Mere Christianity:

“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find out one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

Agape and Philia

A couple of years ago, I went to the beach with some old friends and had an opportunity to practice agape with someone towards whom I feel philia. Before I left home for the weekend, I received an email from one of my friends saying it would be really great if the house we were renting was all warmed up, with the water turned on and 7-layer bars baking in the oven, when they arrived. These friends had a much longer drive than I did, and she knew I would arrive at the house several hours before they did.

I can tell you that I did not feel like driving by myself at night in the pouring rain to Cannon Beach, I did not feel like hunting around outside in the wind and rain for the water valve to turn on the water, and I really did not feel like baking cookies in the gas oven in a kitchen I am unfamiliar with. But I chose to do all of those things anyway because I love my friends and wanted to make them happy. I combined the philia I felt with agape I have learned from God and received blessings in return.

Agape and Eros

In our society today a high percentage of marriages end in divorce. Often the reason cited is that one spouse doesn’t love the other anymore; that feeling they had when they met is gone. The type of love that can disappear in a realationship is eros. Now eros is important for couples to be attracted to each other and get married, but it cannot, by itself, sustain a lifelong commitment. To create a lasting marriage, a couple must combine eros with agape. Each spouse must act as if they love the other even when they don’t feel like it or are angry or annoyed by the other spouse. A simple text to say “I love you,” a special dinner that your spouse likes, doing housework to lighten the other’s load, a hug and a kiss at the beginning and end of each day – all of these actions are examples of agape.

Who do you need to love (agape) today?

Each day we need to make a conscious effort to incorporate agape love into our interactions with those around us. Who is God calling you to love today? Don’t feel like it? As Nike would say, “Just do it.” After all, love as an action verb can be a blessing to others that is returned to you in even greater measure than you give.