I’ve observed that the Christian journey is too often a lonely one. Despite the fact that the Bible prioritizes fellowship. Today we’ve limited fellowship to church services, choir meetings and if we’re particularly fastidious we are members of Bible study. I do not mean to suggest any of these are the ‘wrong’ way of fellowship.
But these are far from enough. Very far. These groups have activities which are scheduled. You come in, sing songs, pray, listen to a sermon, talk about contributions for this or that and leave till next week.
There’s very little change, week after week. Very little digging below the surface. And unless the topic of the sermon or bible study resonates with what one member is going through at the time, they may not have the opportunity to raise their problem for joint contemplation. It’s just the way it is, irrespective of the church, meetings have schedules and when there are more than three people involved it is difficult enough to fit conversations within a schedule and have members bond to the level of sharing personal trials.
This is where friends come in. We need friends. And while I encourage have both Christian and non-Christian friends, I am focusing on Christian friends for this post.
So, I’ll repeat that we need Christian friends. Friends who will understand the call you have been given, what you believe in, why you aspire after what you do, why certain things may matter so much and other things matter so less. Friends to turn to for accountability, for support when things just don’t make sense, to share corny Christian jokes with, to have debates on issues of faith with, and who would say a prayer when you are too tired and resigned to pray for yourself. We need Christian friends. In my opinion, we need them more than we need the plethora of church activities (although that may be a great place to find one).
See a true friend knows you, a great deal about you and still loves you. A true friend will tell you what you NEED to hear even if you do not WANT to hear it. A true friend would empathize, check on you, ask you about that assignment you were struggling with even when you thought they had forgotten. With a true friend, you can be comfortable to be your true self, say it like it is, bare your soul, dreams, fears and all. A true friend is a confidant, something your pastor or priest could never be no matter the number of confessions you do.
A true Christian friend goes a step further; they will pray for you, pray with you, find the right verse or resource in hope it will speak to you or further encourage you, question you, question with you, traverse the Christian journey with you, grow with you, and they will accept you- flaws and all, trainee Christian that you are.
Indeed, we all need a Christian friend.
But, I’ve observed it is very rare to find one. Oh, Christians have tons of friends, but the person I’ve described above? A rarity. To have such a friend is to be willing to be vulnerable, to reveal that we are very flawed, something we can do to God in our silent prayers, but are unwilling to divulge to another human being. To have such a friend also means succeeding to find someone who is willing to be vulnerable with you. Someone who is willing to love and put as much effort in the job/relationship of being your Christian friend as they are with their other relationships and life purposes. To have such a friend means having found someone you can confide in with no condemnation, who you can discuss ALL of you with, who allows you to be yourself even while challenging you to be your best.
I believe our best fellowship happens with friends like these. I also believe a lot of us are failing at our individual journeys, struggling under the weight of it all alone because we have heard too often “that salvation is personal’ and lack such friendships. This should not be so,. With this post, I urge you to check on your Christian friends and invest in a strong Christian friendship today.
If you can’t find one, please be one. Be the kind of friend someone could share their heart with, be the friend who will care enough to check on another, to ask questions below the surface, to allow and encourage others to be themselves, to create a nonjudgmental space, and to be vulnerable. Be THAT kind of Christian friend. The Christian journey is tough and too often lonely, fill a vacancy.