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Dear Church,

One of Paul’s consistent values in his ministry may surprise us: friendship. I think friendship is the most forgotten Christian practice. Paul mentions over 100 names of people in his Epistles. In Romans 16 alone, he mentions over 26 people. Here’s another example in 2 Timothy 4:19-21: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorous. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.” You see how important these people were to Paul, they were partners in his ministry. The modern church is often centered around programs, whereas the early church was centered around people and their friendships. Ministry always flows along a relational river. The church was created to be a community of interdependent people. Not Just Sunday morning friendship but friendship for life.  

Jesus’ example shows us this clearly — His friendships with His disciples and others like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were all part of the relationships that propelled His ministry. Paul’s friends included a wide variety of people: a doctor, a runaway slave, people with Jewish backgrounds, and Gentile backgrounds. God providentially works through our friendships to accomplish His purposes.

The evidence and consequence of communion with Christ is our communion with fellow Christians. The chief mark of friendship is love. Christian love is measured by God’s love for us. Jesus said: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10)Godly friendship means loving fellow Christians well; therefore, friendship ought to characterize a faithful Christian life. In John 15:12-17, Jesus commands friendship to His disciples, which is loving one another in the likeness of Christ’s love for them. Christ characterizes His friendship with His disciples by obedience to the command to love one another. Christ commands and creates friendships among His disciples. Friendships among Christians should reflect friendship with Christ.

Let’s take Jesus’s and Paul’s examples to heart and strive to build strong, loving friendships within our church. These relationships are not just nice to have — they are a reflection of our communion with Christ and a means through which God accomplishes His purposes. Sometimes friendships don’t come naturally, so Pursue friendships within our church, love one another well, and let our relationships be a testimony of God’s love in us. If this is not who you are now, pray that God will ignite your desire and equip you with his presence for genuine friendships within the church.

Be encouraged,
Mathews

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