Friendship in Christ
As we seek to be followers of Christ within today's ever changing secular world it becomes apparent that our faith is truly strengthened by fellowship. The joy of a friendship that is oriented toward God is that it affirms the primacy of Christ in the life of the faithful. A friend in Christ offers encouragement and is present during times of elation and also in the difficult moments that one may face.
This does not mean that we are to cultivate a dependency on another, but that we walk together in faith, recognizing the gift of friendship that our Lord has given us so that we can be reminded of His love. It is not about a friend being unhealthily idolized replacing God, but about continually leading another to renew an understanding of God's proper place.
”As iron sharpens iron, so should one person sharpen another”. We can only fulfill what is spoken of in this verse by remaining in the Lord. We can not sharpen or serve another in the way God wills if we do not first will to please God above all things. To have our heart hidden in the Lordenables us to share our heart infused with the love of God to those around us. We serve God best by lovingly serving one another as Jesus has instructed us to do (John 13:34-35). Authentic fellowship and friendship in Christ is the result of a personal relationship with Him and a surrendered trust in all circumstances. We just make an effort to cultivate fellowship. In the valley moments of our lives they can help carry us to the mountain top where we can see clearly through the lens of faith again.
In our Christian life we face challenges and many temptations. These moments can be devastating and can deeply impact our faith life. In these trying times we may battle with disbelief and even be more vulnerable to sin. We are called to be a people of hope, yet when confronted by events that seem laden with despair it is easy to lose sight of God's love for us. It is seemingly harder to trust in God.
Especially in more vulnerable times it is important to have a sound voice rooted in God's word rather than that of the "market place" speaking to us. Growing up I recall my parents always emphasizing the importance of finding quality friendships. Not so much based solely on a shared faith, but one enriched with like values, good habits, and positive ambitions. When infused with a shared love of God these friendships are a great asset.
The advice that many parents give to their children about the company they keep is often forgotten as one becomes an adult and is surrounded by different struggles and life situations. Healthy friendships remain vital to keep a balanced life. I have witnessed many people who have struggled in their marriages and have shared these wounds in vulnerability to others, those who are without faith. The worldly emphasis on happiness and self-satisfaction can truly intoxicate one's mind and lead them down a whirlwind path away from Christ and Christian values. I have likewise seen beautiful fellowship between godly friends who share burdens with one another. Who help lift another through their struggle by keeping them grounded in God through prayer. This encouragement can help heal in even the most impossible of circumstances, where we can truly see the promise(s) of Christ fulfilled.
Though our friendship in Christ can not erase the trial or difficulty that another is going through we can help to lessen the burden and provide comfort. It is a sharing of grace that so often is best understood and seen when the ordeal is through.
We do not need to know the right words to speak, but perpetually order ourselves upward to God and ask for the grace to know how to aid a friend. Sometimes the best and most important thing we can do is to bow our heads in prayer together. "Iron sharpens iron" and through our godly friends we find courage and strength to persevere in all things, reserve ourselves to God's will and thus carry out the Good News by the witness of our lives.
Catherine Spada is a Public Middle School educator and is currently loving her new role as a full-time mom. She enjoys giving presentations and sharing the beauty of the faith. Catherine resides outside of Toronto with her husband and beautiful baby girl. Feel free to contact her with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org