In this world, in this time specifically, we are given a plethora of choices on how we want to interact with people. We have an option that no other generation in history has had: We can communicate with the world from the safety of our homes.
What are some positives of this? The world is smaller, surely. You are never out of arms reach of your friends, family, co-workers, etc.
But, what are the negatives? Of course we could go all day talking about how Facebook prevents us from developing social skills with face to face people, prevents any real good to come about because no one is wrong on social media, only persecuted, etc. We have a lot of negatives, but as Christians we have a further negative: Social Media causes us to have a choice of how far we want to let people into our lives.
“Before too long, many will have moved on yet again to some cooler, greener pasture promising an even simpler immersion in (digitized) connection, (virtual) community, and (pseudo) meaning.” -Jonathon Holmes (Gospel Coalition)
Why do we do this? As humans, why is this preferable to us to choose how much of our souls we bear to other people?
Sociologist Sherry Turkle: “Technology is seductive when what it offers meets out human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connects... may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”
How are we, as Christians supposed to hold together in ways that other people are not? What is fellowship? Define it.
In the movie, St. Elmos Fire, A young group of post-college friends begin to have to deal with what it means to be an adult. Issues arise between them as they realize there is nothing holding them together except their own determination to stay together. If one of them was less determined, their whole web would begin falling apart. In the movie, they all have to come to the realization that who they are today, and who they were in college is over. Who they are tomorrow may not work with the other friends to keep each other together.
What Does Biblical fellowship look like? Define:
First off the positives:
1 John 1:7
Our version of Fellowship comes from the great teacher, not Jesus, per-say, but from the Holy Spirit. We could not have fellowship or friendship without Jesus opening the way of the Lord. But in reality, it is the Holy Spirit that has taught us how to fellowship.
In the Bible we get a lot mentions of the “Bride of Christ”, harkening to romantic love. We get “Child of God” referring to a fatherly, parental love. But both the love, and the person that is mentioned least in the Bible, is the Holy Spirit and friendship. Christ even said he is sending the healer, the ambassador, the spirit to minister to your soul. Thus, is the friendship, brotherly, love.
The Holy Spirit is here to hold our hands, ensure that we are taught, that we are seeking Christ and the Father. In the same way, we as Christians should do that same for each other. Keep each other focused on Christ.
“Biblical Friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue Him and His kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, Biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel in the earth, and an essential element of what God created for us.” (Jonathan Holmes)
Hobbies and interests shift and change, people leave, move, or even die. Fellowship needs to be grounded in something stronger than those shifts. If God is the foundation of a friendship or relationship, how can it fail?
What does this passage say about friendship and fellowship?
Sacrifice. A few days after saying these words, Jesus literally gives up his life for his friends. It’s odd to me, that we all agree that we would give up our lives in hypothetical senses and some of us are even willing to give up our lives in reality, but it’s a very different thing to give up your life, and give up your conveniences. For some reason the later seems worse. Why is that? Discuss.
On a bit of a tangent, what are the negatives of self sacrifice? Can you name a few? The Bible clearly states that we are to treat others the way that we would like to be treated. Would you ask that others sacrifice for you? Would you expect them to put aside their own walks with the Lord to make sure that yours is good. This is something to keep in mind as we continue talking about Biblical Friendship. We are responsible to each other, not for each other. Christ has already taken the responsibility for us, we do not need to drop everything in our spiritual lives to ensure our brother’s life is on track.
Not only does this mean, not to judge a brother, but it also means to see to yourself first, and make sure you are in a good place, spiritually, before you see to your brother.
Now does this mean to refuse to help people in times of grief? No, absolutely not. In fact, being alone is actually frowned upon.
In this passage, God clearly states that we as Christians should have each other and help each other through our problems.
To Quote excerpts from CS Lewis in This Four Loves:
“To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it... The first and most obvious answer is that few value it because few experience it. And the possibility of going through life without the experience is rooted in the fact that... Friendship is the least natural of loves; The least instinctive, organic, biological, gregarious and necessary.
“We picture lovers as face to face, but friends side by side; their eyes look ahead... friendship must be about something, even if it were only an interest in dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going no where can have no fellow-travelers.”
I think the most obvious, but also the most beautiful instance of friendship in the Bible is David and Jonathan: Someone describe the story to me.
Jonathan cared for David despite the fact that David’s gain meant Jonathan was being pushed out of his own throne, his own place in society. What would Jonathan have done if he had lived? What would a son of a disgraced king do? He didn’t care. He knew God was in David’s victories.
Proverbs 27:5-6, 9-10, 17
Perseverance through strife is rewarding. Being someone’s friend through problems bring you closer together.
“In a Good Friendship each member often feels humility towards the rest. He sees that they are splendid and and counts himself lucky to be among them.” (C.S. Lewis)
Biblical Friendship is, therefore, a bonding of two spirits through the Holy Spirit to guide them, giving them a purpose to walk towards together. It mirrors our relationship with the Holy Spirit, taking time out of our days to pray is that same as taking time out of our days to ask how another person is doing. In Jesus we are a bride, in God we are a child, in the Holy Spirit we are a friend.
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." (C.S. Lewis)