Christian Friendships

I love going to church. It really is the highlight of my week.

But even more than that, I love the joy of the close friendships I have formed with my brothers in Christ over the years — those men who share a common faith in the Lord Jesus same as I do.

It’s just the best thing when you’re stressed out, or you’re worried, to be able to get a text or a message or something from another Christian mate letting you know you are being kept in prayer, or meeting up for coffee, or engaging in lively theological discussion! Sharing common interests is good. But it is even better when close friendships that are formed allow for mutual, meaningful confession of sin, relevant encouragement, and timely edification.

I believe that continuing on strong in the Christian life is achieved in large part due to the tight-knit bonds of Christian friendships. Similarly, being ostracised from the in-church clique by church members, even if unintentionally, is surely a most damaging thing for any Christian person in church to experience.

So I’d like to start thinking more seriously about the importance of my Christian friendships. I’d also like to think carefully about whether or not I am accidentally excluding or ostracising anyone. It seems too important not to think on.

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4 thoughts on “Christian Friendships

  1. Laura says:

    Hmmmm. Brendan, I’ve read most of your blog posts . I’m wondering in honest sincerity what makes you feel that you have the ability, skill and above all ‘wisdom’ to provide Christian devotional thoughts and reflections that would benefit the public at large to the point that you have decided to blog in this area.

    Do you for example have years and years of experience living out the Christian faith? My understanding is that like myself, you are merely a university graduate student. Do you have formal training in theology at least to the Master’s level with a focus on spiritual theology? Have you read widely on spiritual theology and the different schools of thought? With great sincerity I want to ask you why you believe a Christian should bother listening to anything you have to say on the spiritual life when they can read Masters like Rick Warren or the sermons of John Wesley or C.H Spurgeon.

    I’m a little shocked to be honest that you feel capable, qualified, wise and judicious enough to present reflections and thoughts on the spiritual life. My Pastor says that people our age should be focused on reading spiritual material by the Masters like Whitefield and then trying to live out those virtues through apostolic ministry, not coming to the table as if we already have a bucket of spiritual pearls to hand out.

    Don’t you think that any Christian our age who thinks they are sufficiently wise to dish out advice and information is suffering from pride? My Pastor says that the answer people our age and level of Christian maturity should give to those asking us for advice is to encourage them to speak with someone who we in humility consider wise such as the local Pastor in a conservative congregation or Minister or Youth Minister with training and experience. We can certainly listen to people and their problems and pray for them, but are we really wise enough to provide authoritative answers to their spiritual dilemmas and needs?

    Please understand I am not accusing you of pride at all. I am merely expressing my shock that you are confident that you are wise enough to provide spiritual reflections on the Christian life.

    I would like to sincerely request that you consider blogging on your thoughts concerning the vice of pride and virtue of humility. You were impressively very honest about your gross failure to live out a constant and stable live of prayer which as you know is the lifeblood and bedrock of the Christian devotional life. The fact that you do not have a constant and powerful prayer life is another reason I am confusing you feel that you are wise enough to speak on these matters.

    Can I please sincerely ask you to consider doing another blog or several, similar to the one you did on prayer which would be your open and honest reflections on the matter of humility. Do you get defensive and offended when people consider you stupid or attack you as being unintelligent? Or do you not loose your peace knowing that basically that is exactly what you are on your own, since any intelligence you have only comes from the grace of God alone. Do you feel angry when people say negative things about you, hurt your reputation or insult you? The humble person embraces these things as humiliations to humble them and knows that without God they are only doing things based on self-love and vain glory. The humble person is not bothered by these attacks on their reputation or esteem because they know any good actions or wisdom they have do not come from them but are free gifts from the Holy Spirit and if anything, they only taint these good actions with self-love.

    So I would really like to hear your thoughts on this point. Do you always speak to others, especially those from other faiths or even those who have no faith with respect or do you speak down to them and ever use demeaning language in order to exult yourself?

    A famous Christian preacher named John Wesley once said: “True humility is a kind of self-annihilation; and this is the centre of all virtues.” Similarly, a famous Christian philosopher named Thomas of Aquinas said: “When you see anyone who desires esteem and honors and avoids contempt, and who, when contradicted or neglected, shows resentment and takes it ill, you may be sure that such a one, though he were to perform miracles, is very far from perfection, for all his virtue is without foundation”.

    I would like to hear your reflections on pride and humility. Thanks and God Bless.

    • Hi Laura. I appreciate your concerns, and will think on your pride/humility blogging suggestions.

      Just to be clear, this blog is not intended to be a source of apostolic instruction for the wider church. It is a kind of personal journal full of short (c. 200 word) reflections on e.g. Christian living experience, sermons, apologetic and evangelistic encounters, and other such things.

      Actually, at the encouragement of my pastor, I specifically moved to this kind of shorter blogging and writing in order to move away from grand, essay-length blogs.

      Concerning my personal qualifications… No I am not a theologian. But I have followed the Lord for ten years. I have some professional theological training (preliminary certificate), but that doesn’t seem to me what matters. None of the apostles (save perhaps Paul) had academic qualifications roughly equivalent to a Masters or other post graduate qualification. They walked with the Lord. (Not that I am the same as an apostle; obviously I am not; I am just making a more basic point). And I am sure there exist many godless theologians who do not love God (e.g. John Shelby Spong).

      After all, did not the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Scribes have roughly the equivalent to modern ThDs and PhDs? As the Lord Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” (Matt. 11:25).

      So what matters is the Spirit. And I am simply speaking from experience, in reflection mostly for myself. But others like yourself are very welcome to listen in.

  2. Laura says:

    The Apostles of course had far more than formal qualifications in that they had a clear inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Additionally, I’m sure you know that Christians are aware that many people who have doctorates either have no faith or have lost their faith, like Spong. My point was, as I’m sure you could tell, whether you had faithful and orthodox training in the manner which would allow you to speak with authority. There were even unbelievers and apostates in the time of Wesley, but nonetheless he spend years in study.

    This is an interesting concept though bc you state you are speaking mostly for yourself. That seems to change the dynamic of this blog. Perhaps you should consider putting that in the ‘about’ section.

    Also, I concur with the other commenter above regarding porn and chastity. Issues of this I would like to see more people blog about regularly. I recently had a similar event at my Church a couple of months ago now. We were told that 95% of men masturbate, and that its now become a contentious theological issue, because most denominations now believe that masturbation without lust is not sinful, although a growing number like my Pastor disagree. My Pastor admits however there is no explicit biblical basis for his position but feels that its implied on the verses concerning the exclusivity of marriage.

    • Ah, good. I see where you’re coming from.

      About the masturbation issue… Yes I myself am not sure that masturbating is not sinful. But I am hard-pressed to think that the act itself is sin. But it may arise from a cultivation of other desires which are sinful. So it may be a function of sin, and not sin itself. (But if it is a function of sin then it is sin’s implication; therefore, its being done would imply the perpetrator has sinned in a certain way). I am inclined to say that masturbation surely arises from habits which are sinful, and is therefore itself not helpful. Or, masturbation may lead to a state of mind and disposition later to do more habits that are sinful (e.g. lustful thoughts -> masturbation -> porn). So passages like Romans 13:14 and Galatians 5:13-25 are helpful in this regard. I think it may be a problem when we focus on masturbation itself rather than thinking about masturbation as a function of other, more fundamentally wrong, things.

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