One of the most profound helps to one’s faith is the institution of friendship. Friendship could be considered one of the best gifts of personhood, one of the distinguishing marks of humanity, and one of the surest means to individual change. The evangelical who strives to live the Christian life without friends will find themselves lacking much good they would otherwise possess. Friendship is underrated.
This might seem a bit simple, I suppose. The important stuff is Bible reading and praying and all that. Friendships are incidental. They make for nice photographs and letters and that sort of thing, but they’re of little practical good spiritually. This harmless little thought is actually quite damaging, and has wreaked much havoc on a generation of individualist Christians. One need only look at Christ and His apostles to see a model of Christian friendship. Sure, there was more going on than mere friendship in this partnership. But the joy of being friends was a key part of Christ’s life, and the life of His apostles. Witness His distress when, in Gethsemane, He found His friends asleep when He had asked that they stay awake on His behalf. Observe the pathos in His conversation with Peter in which He restored Peter to a life of witness. Consider the fact that John referred to himself as the disciple Jesus loved, and you see clearly that Jesus was a man who knew the importance and value of friendships. The strongest man who ever lived, with the strongest faith ever possessed, nonetheless surrounded himself with a band of friends. We would do well to follow His example.
I know the value of this advice, having practiced it when in a very challenging collegiate environment. I lived with a group of young men who challenged me, encouraged me, and shared life with me over the course of several years. Much good came from our friendship, including association that stretches into the current day. Tomorrow, I’ll give specific ways this band of friends has helped me.