The topic of friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. I guess this idea has been heavy on my mind because being abroad, away from the fellowship familiar to me back in America, I have started to experience some loneliness. Friends have never really mattered too much to me because it almost seemed as though I always had friends; like they found me before I even got a chance to find them. I will admit, however, that these individuals were more so associates and furthermore, only individuals who indulged in the same sin as I had. After salvation I knew that this needed to change because just as we have friends in the world, we too need new friends in the Kingdom, essentially called the Body of Christ.
So like mentioned before, I often had many friends, or associates rather. Although I wasn’t extremely close to all of them, I was often referred to as one of the popular kids, which is one of the reasons why it was difficult for me to adjust when God told me to let these relationships go. God showed me two important things (probably even more) during this separation. The first thing is that these friendships were a form of idolatry in my life. When God began to tell me to disconnect from old friends I began to wonder if people would think that after being saved that I began to think that I was better than them. I began to worry about if I would ever gain a new solid friendship with others. God quickly reminded me that He is the very best friend. James 4:8 (KJV): “8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” Sidenote: Since being saved God has also placed on my heart His stance on a best friend. Having a best friend usually denotes having a friendship with someone who you refuse to allow anything to come between, someone who you spend tons of time with, and someone who knows your deepest and darkest secrets. God began to show me that He should be all of that and if He isn’t, our best friend for life is nothing more than idolatry. Exodus 20:5 (KJV): “Thou shalt not bow thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” At one point I told God that if He takes all of my friends away, please don’t that this one specific friend away. I now realize that God probably didn’t like that too much; me willing to put an idolatrous friendship before His will. We must make sure all of our friendships are righteous and fruitful.
The second thing the Lord began to show me was how I must come out and be separate. 2 Corinthians 6:17 (KJV): “Therefore “Come out from among them. And be separate, says the Lord.Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” I knew for sure that people would REALLY think that I thought that I was better than them if I told them that verse. The only thing that brought me comfort during that time is the fact that the Lord assured me that if anything, me coming away from old friends and ultimately old sins, has potential of pricking the hearts of sinners, convicting them until they too want to seek salvation. Even after knowing that I tried to plead with God, begging Him to allow me to hang around old friends since I no longer desire to indulge in old sins. You know the response I got? 1 Corinthians 15:33 (KJV): “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” Even after reading this I tried to hang out, trying to dwell among sinners while still a weak babe in Christ myself. Of course sometimes God will use us to minister to sinners but God had to break all ties before He could use me in that way. Going out to get dinner started off as just spending time with old friends (although I decided to live life differently), and ended up bringing me closer to relapsing in sin. Hearing curse words, being in the midst of lustful conversations, and smelling the scent of alcohol and marijuana was too much for me to handle as it began to make me numb to sin. The decision I had to make was if I would keep these friends and lose God or keep God and lose old friends. I chose to keep God and lose old friends. Proverbs 13:20 (KJV): “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”
After all of this I spent a lot of time alone and I enjoyed it. I was the only child for many years and even now, I cherish my moments of solitude. In addition to me getting closer to Christ, being alone helped me become more independent and efficient with my time management. It didn’t take long though for me to become curious about the rest of the members of the Body of Christ. Right before I left for Europe God led me to write an email to a woman and share my testimony with her. I had only viewed articles on her blog and I will admit, I was inspired and encouraged after reading her posts but I had no intention of contacting her. I thought this lady would think that I was a weirdo, randomly emailing her. But it was about 4 am one morning and I was unable to sleep. When I asked God to allow me to sleep all I had a mind to do was email this woman and so I did. I emailed her, writing everything God put on my heart and I sent it and guess what? I was able to sleep! In summary, that was the beginning of an encouraging friendship in the Lord. Although our communication up to this point has been merely electronic, God has used each of us in a unique way. We are at two different places in our walks with Him and for that very reason we are able to offer different, but still righteous, perspectives. I am so glad that I took heed to the leading of the Holy Spirit because I feel like I have truly gained a new Sister in Christ and it was at a perfect time because I was worried about finding fellowship here in Europe. Proverbs 27:17 (KJV): “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” God was beginning to show me that He can and desires to put us in contact with the body of Christ in ways that we think would never be effective. When will we realize that His ways aren’t like our ways and that His thoughts aren’t like our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9)?
So now that I am here in Denmark, I have been finding myself truly wanting fellowship with other members of the Body of Christ. Proverbs 11:14 (KJV): “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” In a country where many are non believers, I spend a lot of time sharing the Gospel. I certainly don’t mind introducing the Gospel but I desperately want to be able to converse with other believers about the Gospel as well. I have never realized how tiring it can sometimes be as we carry our cross and witness to the masses. I miss the refreshing feeling of when fellow believers fellowship together, encourage, inspire, and even help to correct the paths of other members. The love shared within the Body of Christ is what I mean. John 15:12-15 (KJV): “12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
I know of two things that can come out of this time of feeling lonely. My dependency is building on the Father and I am recognizing more clearly what it is to be a member of the Body of Christ. Colossians 3:12 (KJV): “12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” As I mentioned to my mother-in-Christ early last week, the fellowship shared between the body of Christ shouldn’t only be on Sundays. I want to fellowship and spend time when it works with our schedule because we enjoy it, not because it is a chore. Having dinner together, studying the Word together, and participating in different events. The other day my host mom ( I am staying with a host family here in Europe) told me that although I don’t drink, there is nothing wrong with me going to a bar and hanging out. Although going to a bar might feel neutral to some, sitting in a bar is not even a bit interesting to me. The only way I want to go into a bar is if I am on a mission for the Kingdom and Christ is with me.
There is something righteous in friendships shared within the Body of Christ as there are many examples in the Bible. 1 Samuel 18: 1-3 (KJV): “1And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.2And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.3Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” This is the type of friendship I want. Proverbs 17:17 (KJV): “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Although it was difficult breaking away from old friendships, I knew that it needed to be done. God reminded me not to worry about old friends as He reminds me that I only need to make sure that I am obedient to Him. Proverbs 12:26 (KJV): “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them.” I want to build lasting relationships with the Body of Christ. Anyone else with me?