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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Of every subculture I’ve ever encountered, forming deep and meaningful friendships with Christians has been the hardest task. It is immensely rare to find healthy Christians—willing to resolve conflicts, communicate, and be gracious, understanding, and loving.

Sadly, my experience mirrors what Ryan wrote and it saddens me deeply.

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Body Talk

Heart-to-heart conversations have been on my mind a lot lately. I have been trying hard to get my fellow elders to open up and dialogue with each other, but there seems to be resistance and reluctance. If we can’t even talk together, how can we work together to care for the flock in unity?

… our inability to talk together in our churches, and especially to talk with people of different ages and backgrounds, is a cancerous disease that erodes our congregational health and threatens the future of our faith. Recognizing that we belong to one another in Christ’s body, our health and our future depend on our ability to learn to talk and work together …

Following in the way of Jesus, we learn to set aside our personal agendas and to seek the common good of our sisters and brothers and that of our place.

C. Christopher Smith, How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church

That peoples can no longer carry on authentic dialogue with one another is not only the most acute symptom of the pathology of our time, it is also that which most urgently makes a demand of us.

—Martin Buber, Pointing the Way

True belonging is not passive … It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.

Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

However, on the bright side, I’ve had the privilege of journeying and conversing with a member these past several weeks, and it has been a very positive and rewarding experience. If only others could open up, be vulnerable and experience the joy of authentic and deep connections!

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Today, I am at home sitting and reflecting. If I was a good Christian, I would be at church. But today, something deep inside me is gnawing away; my heart is heavy—weighed down with disappointments, disconnection, disillusionment. How vast the distance and dissonance between my head and my heart!

What I find discouraging is how little time we make for each other, and sadly, this is even true for those who call themselves disciples of Jesus. Which is strange, given that Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples. As Eugene Peterson reminds us, “spirituality has to do with life, lived life”, and yet, how little our lives intersect with each other. For most Christians, going to church on Sunday to receive a dose of spiritual nourishment is their primary idea of what the Christian life entails. Sigh.

Peterson acknowledges that preaching and teaching are not to be discounted, but avers:

… there are other ways of using words that are just as important, if not as conspicuous: questions and conversations, comments and ruminations, counsel and suggestion. It is a quieter use of language and mostly takes place in times and places that are not set apart for religious discourse. It often conveys as much in what is not said as in what is … But conversation, as such, though honored by our ancestors, is much neglected today as a form of Christian discourse. If we are to be in touch with all the parts of our lives and all the dimensions of the Gospel, conversation requires equal billing (although not equal authority) with preaching and teaching. (The Wisdom of Each Other: A Conversation Between Spiritual Friends, pp. 19-21)

I would venture to say that conversations can carry equal authority as preaching and teaching, albeit in a different sense. After all, preaching and teaching are not the only forms of “Word ministries” that the Bible speaks of:

Preaching is not the only ministry of the word envisaged or mandated by Scripture. To isolate preaching from other ministries of the word or to claim that it is the sole ministry of the word is ‘to make preaching carry a load which it cannot bear …

… the New Testament expect[s] … all believers to be engaged in word-based ministries of encouragement and discipleship within the church family.

[There is a] close affinity and integral interrelationship between preaching and other ministries of the word.

Jonathan Griffiths, Preaching in the New Testament (NSBT 42); IVP, 2017.

WANTED: spiritual friends and conversation partners for the journey!

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