When I first got saved I had a lot of deep questions like, “Who am I going to hang out with?” It was quickly apparent that most of my friends weren’t immediately interested in the same commitment I had just made and I was sure the church was not filled with men I’d be able to relate to.
Turns out the church is filled with men who are also working on developing a closer relationship with God. Men working through their own issues but heading in one direction. Like any group there are naturally people we are more inclined to gravitate toward on a personal level. Regardless of how I might feel about the personalities of other men in church, I do share something with most of them; we are committed to developing a closer, biblical, relationship with God. This is like the trump card that covers everything else.
My faith is in Christ, not my friends but I need my close friends to help me walk out my faith. I appreciate their encouragement. I appreciate that they check in with me through the week and see how I am. I am grateful that there is someone out there taking my name to the God in prayer. I am grateful that some ask me the hard questions and I am committed to being honest with them. I am not friends with every man in my church. However, I could develop a close relationship with any man in my church that has a sincere desire to follow Christ. Not only that, but I need those kind of friendships and so does he.
When we find ourselves, alone, isolated and answering to no one, we are in danger. This is another example of God’s way being different than man’s way. The world often portrays the self-made, pull yourself up the bootstraps man as the ultimate man; going it alone and ultimately alone and victorious on a mountaintop. The heroes of the Bible are humble, rely on God’s strength, God’s wisdom and they have strong relationships with other godly men.
In Mark 6 Jesus sends out the 12 in pairs of two. In Luke 10 Jesus sends out 72 men in pairs. The apostles often traveled in pairs and we see them relying on one another throughout the New Testament. Moses had Aaron. When David was home alone, not surrounded by other men, he didn’t do so well.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” James tells us, “…confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Proverbs is full of advice about Godly friendships including, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” 27:17, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship” 12:26, and “A friend loves at all times…”17:17.
There are also many cautions about who we are friends with and who we spend our time around. While Jesus is commonly known as a “friend of sinners” it is because he knew they needed salvation. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.”
One of my pastors was recently explaining how our church is a welcoming, diverse place. To look around our congregation you would see the homeless, the affluent and everyone in between. The intent is that the church is open to those seeking and welcomes people who are looking for answers. We welcome the hurt and broken who are looking for something and they don’t even know what it is except relief from their pain and confusion. The answer is the peace, love and warm embrace of a loving Father. Jesus meets seeking people with love in their time of need and then calls them into relationship and discipleship. Our relationships should reflect the same thing.
Jesus spent considerable time alone with God. He invested Himself in relationships with people that were trying to grow. He had little time for the religious, self-righteous, condescending “haters” of the day. He was open to all but loved them too much to leave them as He found them. He was the influencer, not the influenced. He was the salt, He seasoned His surroundings and encourages us in the same endeavor.
Christ is our model in all things and His relationships are no exception. Men, to grow in our faith, lead our families and finish this race strong we must have close relationships with a few Godly men. The place to find those men is in church. To instigate and develop those relationships may require leaving our comfort zone and it will require time and effort. The cost of not developing these relationships is stagnancy or failure. The benefits are strong relationships with true brothers.