Do your closest Christian friendships resemble the relationships you observe in your favorite sitcoms?
Think about it. What do you observe in the relationships sitcom characters share? They’re almost entirely based upon deceit. Sitcom plots are mostly about the lies the characters tell one another (and themselves) and how they navigate through the resulting issues in 22 minutes. TV friendships are transactional. Characters primarily value their friendships for what they can get from them or how they make them feel. They’re shallow. Interactions occur almost entirely on the surface and characters don’t seem to care about deeper issues, longings, and motivations. Finally, TV relationships are disposable. Conflicts happen and relationships end, rolled up and thrown away like old, dirty socks. We rarely see friendships built to survive even the slightest difficulty.
This is not how not-of-this-world friendships work!
As Christians, we’re strangers and foreigners, aliens who have taken up temporary residence in a place that is not our true home. We are citizens of Heaven. One day, one way or another, we will get there. Until then, the way in which we live our lives and conduct our relationships is of the utmost importance.
What does being not-of-this-world mean for your closest Christian friendships?
Because we Christians speak a different language than the world, it should be no surprise that we have a special word for these friendships: fellowship. What is fellowship?
When Christians interact with one another in a God-honoring manner, they experience fellowship. It happens as we greet one another in worship, pass each other on the jogging trail, share text messages, and gather for meals.
We can and should enjoy casual interactions with hundreds of Christian acquaintances. Belonging to PCC makes that difficult to avoid! However, these warm instances of fellowship really heat up when we gather with a few like-hearted people to pray, share burdens, eat dinner, and study the Bible together. We should each crave, cultivate, and cherish a few deep, edifying, faithful connections. There’s simply no substitute for the kind of fellowship we enjoy in a healthy small-group environment.
Fellowship also happens when Christian friends team up to serve. This could be something simple like partnering with a Christian friend to take dinners to a homebound neighbor. Or, it could be something as complex as starting a non-profit organization to address a social injustice.
A special kind of partnership happens when Christian friends discover that they share a passion for something that is close to the heart of Christ and when they link arms with one another to do something about it. This type of fellowship—Gospel partnership—isn’t reserved for some special class of super-gifted or uber-talented Christian stars. This type of partnership is available for any of us who decide to work together to make a difference.
Who are your closest Christian friends? What passions do you share? Could God be calling you to something great together?
Close Christian friends experience fellowship when they gladly share resources with one another. What kind of resources? It could be any combination of time, talent, or treasure. When we’re networked with a small, intimate group of Christian friends, there’s nothing we won’t share when there is a need. We loan tools. We share meals. We offer services. We give prayerful concern and a listening ear. We gladly go the extra mile.
We experience this type of fellowship—this glad sharing of all we are and all we have—when we connect to a small group of Christian friends, when we let our needs be known, and when we grow in concern for one another.
If you’re a believer, you’re not of this world. You’re different. Your closest Christian friendships should be different too. Jesus tells us that our love for one another and the fellowship we share would not only make us stand out, it would prove to the world that we are truly Jesus’ disciples. Let’s love one another well.