The Life Changing Glue of Friendship
I sat across the table from him over a stack of pancakes, a mess of eggs, and gallons of coffee. We needed the carbs and caffeine to keep our legs churning for the next two days. We’d started a mountain biking trip the day before, me riding old man style (wheels super-glued to the ground), and he, though ten years older, hitting jumps like a BMX pro. We’ve ridden bikes together over the years, but never on a multi-day trip like this with other guys.
All of the guys on the trip are Christian, active in their faith, and serving in ministry in various capacities, so spiritual conversations were welcomed, expected, and initiated by all. While stuffing our faces I asked him about his journey of faith. He shared about the church he attended for the first twenty years of his marriage, and about switching churches a few years ago. I asked about the difference between the churches and why the switch. The former church was very legalistic, all about the rules: wear this, don’t wear that, watch this, don’t watch that, say this, don’t say that. But the new church was much more about the Gospel of grace: freedom and forgiveness found in a flourishing relationship with Christ. So I asked him, “What was that switch like for you personally? What did that mean for you?” There was a long pause. His eyes reddened. They swelled with tears. He grasped for a napkin, and under a breaking voice, he choked out one simple phrase: “It was like breaking chains. It was freedom!”
Everybody wants true life. Everybody is searching for something that gives them meaning, hope, purpose, and freedom. But when you’re stuck in a place of death, it’s hard to know anything else. It’s hard to see what you don’t know. It’s hard to imagine a better reality. I’ve been there and I know many of you have as well.
Friends Made the Difference
I was tempted to launch into a sermonette on freedom being one of our two words as a church for this year, but instead I asked how he ended up in the new church. “It was my friends. Many had already left the old church and moved over to the new. They were telling me all about the difference, so we finally joined them.” There’s nothing sweeter in life than to be growing and flourishing spiritually and to be experiencing true life to the fullest, surrounded by others who are doing the same.
The Essence of Friendship
A few days later another guy shared about the essence of friendship, how we sharpen one another and help one another grow. He quoted John 15:15, “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” In this verse he observed that the glue of the friendship Jesus shared with the disciples was knowledge from the Father. His point was that if we want to experience friendship at its core, it requires pouring out what we’ve learned from the Father with one another. Of course Jesus knows the Father in a way we never will, so Jesus tells us to abide in the Word of God, abide in Christ’s love, and to keep His commandments (John 15:9-11).
God is still in the business of breaking chains, every day he is setting people free, and he wants to use you to pour into the lives of others. It’s through Christ-centered friendships that people get set free from the chains of legalism and rule keeping to come to know true life. I’m praying God would give you opportunities this week to tell your friends about the life changing power of the Gospel of grace. You never know if the person you’re talking with is on the verge of seeing chains broken in their lives!