For those who don't know me well, I'm a
very analytical guy. Sometimes this can be a good thing. Sometimes it can be a very bad thing. For me, everything has to have
an explanation which leads to a problem. When I get in a sad mood, which happens to everyone from time to time, I have to
analyze it, find out why, and eliminate it. It's odd I do this since, thus far, it's never taken care of the problem. However,
as we all know, the more you analyze a down mood, the worse it gets.
On December 26, 2003, my family and I went to
see Cheaper By The Dozen. I'd got a lot of cool stuff for Christmas including a new computer, but I was down for some reason.
I saw this movie though about a family with a dozen kids and how the kids always stuck together in the end.
at the age where I would prefer to be more seperated from my own family than clung to them and I thought about that on my
way home. In many ways, I do have a new family. That family consists of several groups of friends I have from different areas.
I thought of that Sunday how I had one of them up to help me hook up my new computer since I'm a computer idiot. He
handled it wonderfully. This friend knows who he is and there is another one in my "inner circle" that I turn to for computer
problems. Both are excellent.
It hadn't been too long ago though that this other friend was talking to me about my
Accordance article on the way to my house after church one Sunday and complimenting me on it. It was a great blessing to hear
that from a good friend who keeps telling me my gift is in writing and to go to writing.
I thought of my work family.
At my workplace of a grocery store, a surprise to many who might not know me well, but I'm the clown. I try to do anything
I can to make anyone laugh. Some people get annoyed but that just means they get annoyed. A lot of people laugh. I'm not close
to a lot of these people but I consider some friends. I enjoy their company. I have a family even at work.
of going to college. I don't think I got to know many people at college which was a downside. My shyness got in the way and
I didn't even get to date there. However, I did have some friends. I also noticed in talking to professors that after awhile
when we talked together about theological issues, it was like two professors getting together talking. I felt like I was accepted
as one of them.
There's also my internet family. I know some people might think chatting through the net is strange
but it's really just people coming together. I know several of these people very well and often talk to them about my problems.
The importance of the internet for communication came to me in a strange place actually.
One of the highlights of
my new computer is that I can play Warcraft 3 on it now. I got on the battlenet to play against people from all over the nation.
Most people are nice enough to tell you if they think you stink at the game. (Most aren't so nice in saying it either.)
I found one kid who, though he did beat me, I thought just wanted to talk. He started talking about personal problems like
a bad relationship with his father and how his uncle died recently and how he had trouble in Math. I offered my help in Math
and gave advice in the other areas. Mainly, I think he just wanted to talk. It's easier to talk to strangers sometimes because
they're not as quick to condemn you. That's a blessing of internet communication.
I thought also of New Year's Eve
where I had one friend up and before he came up, was talking to another one on the phone. I was playing Final Fantasy X2 but
we just kept chatting away on any number of topics. It's something really awesome to know someone likes you enough to just
want to talk with you.
When my other friend arrived, we played each other over the computer. I lost, but it was still
fun. It's one of the great joys of friendship. In our inner circle, we're very tightly knit. Each of these friends knows who
they are. I value them greatly and my life is forever better for knowing both of them. In fact, it was thinking of people
like these that that night I went to the movie put a smile on my face at the end.
I also thought of another friend.
I am not sure as to his Christianity for I was around when he converted but I don't see any fruit yet. Still, when he had
a discussion in a creation-evolution course he was taking in college, he called me. He had to do a paper and it was a great
joy to be called upon by a friend in need for my area of specialty.
What makes that special though is I know this
friend values me outside of that. Several people have at times liked the things I can do. I can tell them what day of the
week they were born on and multiply numbers rapidly in my head or several other mathematical things. However, my true friends
are the ones I say that if I got in a car accident tomorrow and became an idiot for the rest of my life as a result, they
would still be my friends.
This all reached a conclusion tonight at a meeting at a restaurant to open up a chapter
of the apologetics ministry, Reasons to Believe, in our area. I noticed we had different strengths there. The guy next to
me was the science whiz. I was the philosophical one. We had others that were skilled in other areas and the guy across from
me ran a publishing company which means I'm working on getting published now as well.
The one next to me had said
that he thought we had a great team. I agreed. I think it's something fascinating. God brings us all together and we contribute
in friendship to helping each other. As I've told a student of mine, apolgetics is a big ocean and we can't all dive deep
in the same areas. We'll often have to refer to proficient swimmers in areas where we are weak.
With all this in mind,
I turned to the NT epistles. I was amazed by the emphasis I saw put on friendship over and over. Jesus in the garden asks
his friends to pray for him. That God himself came down and formed friendships with ordinary people bafffles my mind. This
is probably why John calls himself in his gospel, the disciple whom Jesus loved. It's not a term of arrogance but just shows
his shock that God himself would take on flesh and love him.
Then one can also think of Paul traveling in Acts and
how he counts on his friends in his ministry. We know they had an impact because when his epistles are read, one sees over
and over that at the end of many, God considers important enough to be in his Word, Paul's messages to his friends. Just look
through the list sometime and think of what those people must have meant to Paul.
One striking example is Philemon.
This simple book is simply a letter to a friend but one can get such insight on friendship. I'd recommend reading it and thinking
of writing something like this to a friend. Paul knew his friend well from what we read and maybe one of the reasons God included
this in the Bible was to show us how important friendships really are.
Friendship and fellowship are so important
since God has them in himself in the Holy Trinity. It is not good for man to be alone. Why is it not good? Because it goes
against the nature of God who is not alone in himself within the Trinity. God has fellowship within himself.
of people will often say, "All I need is Jesus." For salvation, that's true. All you need is Jesus. If you think you're going
to go through reality like that though, think again. Jesus gave us the ability to have friends and I think he intends for
us to use it. He does not mean for us to cut ourselves off from everyone. He means for us to grow in the faith.
Bible is full of one another passages. This implies a fellowship between believers. I don't just mean a church home. I mean
believers you yourself know and fellowship with. I often get more benefit even from those circles of fellowship than I do
the church. Maybe there just isn't much fellowship in churches anymore. A minute of shaking hands is not enough really.
I am writing this mainly to encourage us all to look at something we may have taken for granted. Friendship. When you pray
tonight, if that is what you normally do, pause for awhile and think of your friends and pray for them. They're really important
It has been said that a great friend is one who knows everything there is to know about you, but likes you
anyway. I am convinced this is true. Many of my greatest friends could blackmail me with what they know about me and vice-versa.
However, if that is true, think of how it must be for Jesus.
Jesus knows everything there is to know about us, but
likes us anyway. I know Jesus loves us but maybe we need to point out that he likes us also. He is fond of us. He enjoys our
company and our fellowship. 1 John 1:3 is explicit in speaking about the fellowship we have with Jesus. In this epistle, John
has a constant amazement through what Jesus did for us.
The hymn says "What a friend we have in Jesus." How often
we've forgotten that. God doesn't just love us. God is our friend. I love several people but the ones I am friends with are
different. I can love my enemies but I am not friends with them. Isn't it great to know that God not only loves us but is
our friend also? Christ himself spoke in the upper room discussion in John that we were his friends. Think about that a bit.
You're a friend of God.
So in the near future, take a moment and pray for your friends. I personally hope if you are
getting this email that I am one on the list and you will pray for me and I will pray for you as well.