Are you a friend?
During our family devotion time, I have been reading the Proverb associated with the day of the month. We have been using the ancient practice of Lectio Divina meaning sacred reading. Before we read, we ask the Holy Spirit to give us a word or phrase from the text that would impact our hearts in a personal way. On August 18, I read Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. That verse stood out to each person in our family. We were convicted about the tendency to isolate ourselves.
Everyone faces the temptation to isolate themselves. When an animal is injured, it seeks isolation to lick its wounds. Sometimes we isolate ourselves in a spirit of self-protection. But isolation for a longer period of time can cause us to assume, we are right about more things than we are. When we are not around other people to challenge our assumptions and to compare our perspectives, we might break out against all sound judgment. The echo chamber of our own heads tends to fuel our pride more than grow us in empathy towards the needs of others.
It’s important for us to move towards people. We can’t assume it’s everyone else’s responsibility to move towards us. We need to choose relationship over personal comfort. Relationships are risky and messy but the meaning of life is only found in relationships.
That chapter ends with Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. This verse challenges us on the other side. Some people are very social and actually experience pain when isolated. But just because we have lots of acquaintances (or companions) does not necessarily mean we have all that we need. Most of us can count on one hand the number of close friends that we have. Those friends who stick closer than a brother are extremely hard to find. But instead of blaming others for not being that friend, we must ask ourselves: Am I that friend?
Jesus IS that friend. Ed Welch said, “All the biblical stories of the Lord moving toward people are stories of grace. Grace is God’s moving toward us in Christ. He pursued us not because we called out so well and took the first step of self-reformation. We were simply sick and needed him. Or worse, we were enemies who were not inclined to surrender” (Rom. 5:10). To love like Christ loves, we need to take the initiative in our relationship with others. We can hope it will become a two-way street and they will pursue us too, but we can’t wait for that.
LIFE Groups are a great place to nurture communities of pursuing each other. None of them do it perfectly, but we pray the Lord would give each of us the humility and the love to take the initiative and move toward others. If you are not in a LIFE Group and you’d like to sign up for one please go to https://tinyurl.com/LGinterest. If you have given your LG a year but you’d like to try another, contact your leader to discuss this option, then complete the interest form. We rejoice that the Lord has given us a Body to do life together and we pray your LIFE Group might be your immediate family in the church family. Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15b)