As Seen on Sunday: Should we have friends?
We provide a recap of the Sunday sermon to encourage you in the faith each week but it's not the same thing as being here.
As Seen on Sunday is the weekly sermon recap from the EC crew. When we gather together the Word of God is proclaimed, Biblical doctrine is taught, and God is worshipped. Each week we try to answer the question, "How should we then live?" on the six days between Sundays.
Sean's adapted sermon notes.
I started out with the question “do people need to have or be friends with other people in addition to God?” It is my assumption today that God wants a relationship with us and is not detached or only looking to dominate humanity. Merriam-Webster.com defines a friend as “one attached to another by affection or esteem.”
There is a cliche that Christians often say “we are better together” usually in the same breath as potluck. Here at Empty Church we always put an emphasis on faith conversations made possible through building relationships.
The problem started when all I could think of was Biblical examples of God’s relationship with humanity. The Old Testament is very focused on God’s relationship with Israel and the New Testament with everyone else. I even thought of that cliche verse “there is one who sticks closer than a brother.”
I began to look up friendships I could think of but there were so many reasons why these were not good examples of friendships! Certainly did not show why we are better together. Besides people in the book of acts sharing all that they had and meeting from house to house, I was really having trouble understanding the biblical precedence for friendships with humans.
7 examples from the Bible of friend interactions:
This is no way a exhaustive list. During empty church's discussion time (not recorded) we added Joshua and Caleb, Elijah and Elisha, and Naomi and Ruth.
Just reading the interactions between Job and his friend’s would take up all the time we have here but the overall summary is that Job must have done something wrong to have God abandon him like this so Job just needed to confess his wrong doing. People hurt their ankle because they are tired and careless or hard drive cables fail because why not from the problem child computer from the college. None of my friends pointed to those things as reasons why I have sin in my life although I do. Sometimes problems just happen.
Abraham and Lot - Genesis 13, 14
Abraham was very agreeable to Lot, allowing Lot to selfishly pick the best land as they both staked their claims. When Lot was captured Abraham took an army to go get him. It seems to me that It was good for Lot to have a good friend but there was not any reason for Abraham to have Lot as a friend (disclaimer Abraham and Lot were relatives).
Jonathan and David
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. - 1 Samuel 18:1-4
Jonathan and David were such good friends that some people try to say that they were in a homosexual relationship. I don’t believe that the text lends to this, but any time people are the best of friends people always question this. Jonathan cared for David so much that he warned David that King Saul, his father, wanted to kill him two different times. That sounds like treason to me.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah
The 4 of them were taken away from their country and put into the invading king’s service. Together they helped each other not forget their faith and to stand up for what they believed in. Although Daniel was not with them, the 3 others did not bow down to the statue. Friendship did not leave them alone in a strange land.
Jesus, the disciples, the crowd, and the sisters
Jesus interacted with many groups of people. He has the 12 disciples who never seemed to get it, fell asleep, abandoned him in his darkest hour. One of them betrayed him. Crowds went from listening to him and accepting his miracle food to shouting crucify him. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus opened their house to Jesus. Mary had put ointment on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. When Lazarus was sick he was described as the one who Jesus loved and Jesus mourned with the family after Lazarus died.
Paul had many friends.
He had a falling out with Barnabas over Timothy but later calls Timothy a son to him and wants to send him a Philippi. Paul also speaks highly of Epaphroditus. Romans 16 is a long list of people to greet with something positive about them. Paul and Silas were imprisoned together and praised God during the experience. Priscilla and Aquila are apart of this list, and are a couple who Paul stayed with since they were also tentmakers.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. - Acts 2:42-47
I think that the way that these people helped each other and spent time with each other shows just how good of friends they were.
Nobody is alone
The common thread with all these people is that they aren't lone rangers. Sure we can find times where people were by themselves, but it was not because they would not be friends with people.
I believe that Jeremiah might be a candidate for an example of someone who was alone but I think that this was a result of his obedience to bringing God’s message which was not received rather than his choice or even God’s choice- it was the sinful people’s choice.
So why should we have friends? True friends make us stronger. We are able to accomplish more when we have friends. It is like that cliche verse about men sharpening each other like iron sharpens iron, but I find this more true with friends than at men’s breakfasts.
9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
I think that it is important to note that although I believe we should have friends, that the Bible makes it clear that having friends does open us up to hurt and conflict. We are imperfect people and it is going to happen. what we can do is allow God to help us handle the situation and to allow healing to come in. Just like the image of marriage being three strands, Husband, Wife, and God, friendship cannot exclude God. We have a tendency to want to forget other people or forget God when we have been created for relationship with both.
Charge of mission
Let me help you have a good return on labor, help me back up when I fall, keep my heart warm when it is ice cold, let us resit those who come to overpower us. Let us not be quickly or easily torn apart.
Grace and Peace be with you.