Humans are social creatures that need intimacy and relationships in order to thrive. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you know that we all have a desire for friendship. It’s how we are all created to function.
Even though I’ve experienced periods of loneliness in my life (hello, middle school), I have generally had a wide array of friends from different areas I’m involved in. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate and befriend all kinds of people, and I love having a diverse set of different groups to spend time with.
But there’s just something different about Christian friends.
Don’t get me wrong; all of my pals have the capacity to encourage me and make me feel better when I’m down. But as a Christian whose life is defined by my relationship with Jesus Christ, there’s just something unique about being surrounded by a community of fellow believers who can love you not just as a dear friend, but also as a brother or sister in Christ.
We are not necessarily drawn together by our similarities. My circle of Christian friends includes people with different backgrounds, different ages, different majors, different interests, different political philosophies, different personalities.
Some of us may never have become friends except that we somehow ended up in a Bible study together. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What draws us together, above any surface-level enjoyment of each other’s company or even a deeper social connection, is our common love for Jesus. People whose lives have been changed by the Gospel are able to experience a brotherhood that goes beyond normal close friendship, because regardless of our similarities or differences, our lives are centered on the truth of Christ's love, which enables us also to "love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
We are not just friends, but parts of one "Body of Christ" united in a common purpose of displaying His love in the world.
This reality has become clear in some of the most challenging times in my life. When tragedy strikes, your family and friends are there for you to help you recover in any way they can. But when I struggle, my Christian friends don't just provide for physical and relational needs as they come up. These brothers and sisters also speak to my deeper spiritual needs by pointing me back to the Gospel — the "good news" that God loves me, that Jesus died and rose again for me, and that through faith in that merciful reality I have the hope of God's presence in this life and the next.
Even though I already believe this to be true, it can be so easy to lose sight of this hope in the midst of life's struggles. That is why I am so incredibly blessed by my friends who are not only able to share their time and love in immediate ways, but are also willing to pray for me and help me refocus on Jesus rather than my circumstances.
These friends have no special power to miraculously fix my problems, but their Biblical encouragement and reminders to trust in God's "good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Romans 12:2) consistently change my perspective.
So, thank you for helping me to "turn my eyes upon Jesus," because that is the only thing that makes "the things of earth" begin to seem "strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."