“Love one another.” It would seem a simple commanding statement, but the biblical context and who spoke it makes a difference. I do not have many close friends, but those I have in Christ are precious. We share common core beliefs: we know we were formed by the Creator; we know He has forgiven our sins; we love each other in word and deed. The test of time, however, makes three of my friends in the United States notable. We are an odd foursome together in that our binding together is without respect to our different upbringings and backgrounds. Our educations vary in type and length. We certainly don’t look the same or even have the same general interests, except one primary one: we love Jesus. And, my three friends have stood the test of time with each other and me. Shouldn’t a primary fruit of friendship be longevity through varied circumstances?
Sid started to lead worship with me years ago. We played worship songs year after year by ourselves. We ate together, observed the heavens together, and talked about the Lord’s ways in our lives and the lives of others. We often shared the Word together. On this last one, our times have been sweet. He loves God as Creator as I do, so we share about that quite often. Our paths have mixed and crossed more than 30 years. He helped me at critical times, including during the last year of my late wife’s life, a transition to single life, and a recent marriage to another close friend.
Ron worshipped with me, too. He taught me new songs, introduced new ways of playing songs, helped CHRISTWORKS ministry functions. He and his wife were a home for meals, fellowship, and discussion. He checked on me during rough times. He prayed for me when I was doing things overseas. His wife always made me feel welcome. When I invited him to be with me for one thing or another, they would almost always come together. He loves his wife. We have been friends over two decades.
These two men are my board members in CHRISTWORKS. I trust them and their judgement implicitly. They watched and participated in my life and my late wife’s life as she and I served the Lord. They prayed for her unswervingly as we purposed to serve in the mission field while cancer marched through her body. They helped me in those last months of her life on earth and helped me through grief. They watched God heal me, move me forward, and stretch me as I determined that I must serve another people in another country for the next portion of my life.
I went to them when the Spirit of God suddenly spoke to my heart about Faylene, who had been another friend for years (almost two decades). I was a friend of her children when they were young. I loved her and her late husband, Gene. Our households were close when we both lived in the same state. We worshipped together, loved the Word together, and spent much time during a decade of close fellowship. When God took Gene home, her travail through grief was hard. Those lessons later helped me. She remembered how it was, so her friendship reached me at an especially hard time several years later. She was already helping widows in distress as she had been a widow herself. She knew answers to my questions when I was not doing well in the latter stages of grief.
On Dec 8th, two years ago today, I went to see Faylene as a friend — purely as a friend. I had fellowship with her for several hours a day for three days while she was visiting one of her sons. We talked about Christ, each other’s life, and the Word. The time, like my times with Sid and Ron, was special. We purposed to see each other again when I returned from the next mission trip so that I could give her a report. We had a simple common goal: serve God in the mission field where we could be of use. She was headed to Africa, and I was returning to the Philippines. Through an extraordinary set of circumstances four months later, we were engaged by the time we got together again. I love being married to her, but she is still my close friend. Sid is still my close friend. Ron is still my close friend. Now Ron and Sid pray and support us with their friendship as Faylene and I go to the Philippines.
What value is friendship? In Christ, it has much value and becomes a testimony to others. Over time, it should grow deeper. Tests come, but it can still grow deeper. Shouldn’t it be that way? Isn’t that what 2 Peter 1 is all about? Ron and Sid cannot fly to the Philippines, but they do “fly” with us in a different way. We each trust in the Lord, but we have also learned to listen and trust each other as we serve Him. So, they remember me (now us) when Faylene and I go overseas together. They still assist us and, on occasion, I am blessed to assist them.
I have other close friends in Christ and am making new ones. These three, however, have had more interaction with me than all the others in the United States over the last 25 years. There is a good chance, because of work in the Philippines and a move to another state in the future, that Sid and Ron may become less active in my life, but that does not lessen the testimony of a good friendship in Christ. Faylene and I spend time with them to this day, and will if the Lord permits.
Have friends in Christ. Have them over time as much as you can. Serve Christ with them by being willing to do whatever He desires. Weather the challenges, keep the Word fresh, repent as you need to, pray as you need to while the friendships continue. Then, you prove Him right when He states, “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
If you do not know the Living God, the One my three friends and I have found to be at the core of our friendships, why don’t you consider the God of the Bible? A relationship with Him is possible with your commitment to Him and a turning from your ways to His way. Contact us if you want to know more.