As we’ve engaged with our mission of connecting people to life in Jesus, you may have noticed a theme – a heavy focus on relationships with others. These relationships, no matter the length or depth, allow our message a greater chance of taking hold.
Over the past weeks, months, and years, we’ve stressed the fundamental importance of relationships in our mission. We’ve taken deep dives into Household WELLs. We’ve answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (Hint: Everyone.) There’s another sphere of influence to cover: friendship. Friendship+ is one of our strategic values at the Church. Why is that? Per our website, “because friendships infused with Jesus expand the reach of true community.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8 states “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” By this measure, friendship and faith go hand-in-hand. We’re not simply speaking God’s Good News at someone, we’re sharing it with them. And relationships with friends can be super-charged with love when we include God.
Before we go any further, let’s address the elephant in the room (his name is Biff). “Biff,” you may say, “who is my friend?” Biff just kind of looks at you and snorts, because he is an elephant. But the point is, we’re looking for an out. We have our church friends and our LifeGroup friends, and they’re wonderful people. But we also have our friends that aren’t Christ followers. Sometimes they may even be outright hostile toward religion. This compartmentalization seems that it would be easier to share our faith with complete strangers than some of our friends. That way, at least any rejections or disagreements would be short-lived. At the very least, those conversations could be awkward.
I don’t claim to be the authority on overcoming this. I struggle with it myself – how do I ever put in a word for God when those around me are so involved in discussing city zoning regulations, Taylor Swift’s discography, or teams that are not the Packers? A good place to start is with our other four missional values:
- Ordinary+: Ordinary in the sense that your relationship with God is normal for you. It’s a regular part of your life. Nothing to be ashamed of.
- Step+: One step at a time. We don’t have to give a 20-minute sermon. One simple question can be all it takes to start a conversation.
- Generosity+: Your friends know that you’re willing to lend a hand, an ear, or anything else that is needed. Remember that you’re modeling Christ’s love.
- Home+: Adrian touched on this last month – it all starts at home.
God wants us to include Him in our friendships. Not only will our friendships serve as an opportunity to share God, God’s involvement can strengthen the friendship itself. And then maybe those friends are emboldened to share with some of their other friends, and those friends with their friends, and…you see where this is going. That’s where being a friend, being a neighbor, and being a Household WELL can lead.
For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:20)