A Few Words to the Philippians and to Us!
Friendship – Part 2
Philippians 1:7-11 (NIV) 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.
Never forget or doubt this: The enemy of this kind of oneness will absolutely try to destroy this kind of friendship. Very often, he does. We must be alert and fierce in our understanding of that fact, as well as our decision to keep these precious God-given friendships strong. There will be times that this will mean understanding, forgiveness, investment, patience (exhaustion) and wisdom. This will mean God’s definition of love. It will mean His love in us. It will mean nurturing a close relationship with Him so that we can keep healthy the relationships He has given us!
These friendships sometimes start out as a discipline of loving actions. They most likely don’t start out as feelings of endearment. God puts someone in your life or mine who we are required to interact with in some way. In time, we begin to recognize the walls she has constructed and even a glimpse of the reasons why were thrown up. Maybe we aren’t necessarily comfortable with the walls or with the person because of the walls. Yet…we begin to understand that God has called us to be there.
To walk away would leave this new person in your life floundering in their questions. Without your particular personality and experience level…your (sometimes reluctant) friendship, there would be no reason for them to stay connected with you long enough to understand that God is the answer to this mess called life.
So you stay. You participate. In some ways, you endure. But you love them by your actions even though your feelings say, “Run!” Maybe this is new for you… or just out of your comfort zone. There are times that it is hard and you are stretched and feel unequipped. But you have a sense that God is in this…that you are a small lifeline to their walk with Him. It isn’t that you do much. You visit on Sunday or shoot them a text or email during the week. Maybe a lunch now and then.
Because you want to walk closely with God and follow His purposes for you, you pray often over your responses to their questions and sensitivity to the things they share. You probably don’t realize it yet, but this is drawing you closer to God and to this person.
One day you realize that you love laughing with them…that you are proud of a new step they have taken. You sense that you are invested in their life…in their spiritual success. You are hoping with them, you are rooting for them as they work through doubt and pain. You are feeling what they feel and finding joy in their victories. There is a bond that is real and deep and abiding. Your joy and pride in their victories, in their relationship with God is inexplicable, wonderful…purposeful!
Life is more fun because of this person. The thought of them brings a smile to your heart and occasionally shows up on your face even when no one else is around to ask why.
This is God. This is the life of relationships He wanted for us all along. This is amazing fun. It is His plan and purpose for us. It is His joy in us. It is the servant life…the upside down life. It is in giving that we receive in ways we could never have planned.