Monday, April 06, 2009

Shoulder to Shoulder

Remember me? Sorry I haven’t posted much lately. One reason I haven’t posted is that my mind has been preoccupied with a sad situation involving a close friend who appears to be straying from the faith. It consumes my thoughts. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love go through something like this. A family is being torn apart and I am reminded just how important it is to know God’s Word well so that you can spot a fraudulent gospel a mile away. And to pray, pray, pray!

Still, it hurts. Sure, we are told to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and that’s natural. We love the brethren (1 John 3:14). When they are rejoicing, we naturally rejoice with them. When they are hurting, we naturally hurt with them. I’m sure that’s part of my pain as I watch this hurting family. I think, though, there’s another level of hurt here.

The reason for this became clearer to me the other day as I was reading The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. This book was born out of a conference by the same name. Each chapter was written by a different conference speaker and deals with a different aspect of this topic. The following is from a chapter by John Piper on “Joy and the Supremacy of Christ.”

Recall the distinction C.S. Lewis made between the love of romance and the love of friendship. “Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.” In other words, in romance, two sit across from each other and tell each other how much they like about each other. In friendship, they don’t face each other but stand shoulder to shoulder, facing a common challenge or a shared beauty or a great God.

For Lewis – and I think this is close to the biblical understanding of friendship – the greater the shared vision and the shared joy in that vision, the deeper the friendship.

This really resonated with me. I think that loss of camaraderie explains some of the sadness and emptiness I have felt in the past months as I have watched my friend struggle. When we see something lovely, hear a great song, or learn something new, we naturally want to share it. We want to turn to the person beside us and say, “LOOK!” Somehow it enhances our joy for others to share in our admiration. Quite honestly, that’s one reason why I blog: to share my joy over learning new things about God and to have that joy increased when my dear blog readers nod their virtual heads in agreement and add their “Amen!”

Piper goes on to say:

The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8, “Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Friendship hangs on believing the same gospel. The main joy of God-glorifying friendship is joy in a common vision of God.

Thus, godly friendships not only exalt Christ and honor God but they also increase our joy. So thank you, my joy-increasing blog readers! And thank you for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me and marveling at our awesome God.


K said...

AMEN, Sister/Friend!

Krista said...

Oh, my heart aches for you, Jennifer. I don't know any details of the situation about which you make reference to, but I can only imagine how difficult it must be to watch someone close to you stray from the faith. I will be praying for you and for this person.

boo4baby said...

I have found myself teary over this, too, Jennifer. And I have been praying for you. I know how it hurts my heart and we haven't been close in a few years. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I am praying for your endured strength. And I am reminded that we all are a breath away from falling away. God, keep us from the evil one, please! Keep us in Your Word, on our knees, and with Your people! Love you!

Baroness Insomniac said...

Sometimes, I believe, for reasons totally unknown to ourselves, we or those we love, are allowed to fall for the benefit of those looking on. Did I say benefit? Yes. How do we benefit watching a dear one go away from the truth?
1) We pray for them more earnestly. 2) We examine our lives and realize that if God wants to make an example of us in such a manner, we have no say and therefore, we come to see our place before God more deeply - clay in the hands of the potter - utterly, totally dependent upon our Lord and Master ... and here's where I get tearful thinking on the situation.

Oh that we all be ever mindful to lean on Him and Him alone and to reject ANYTHING - ALL THINGS - that are contrary to His Word.

My Dear Sister in Christ and much loved cousin on this earth - I love you and heartily give you big amens - and you can be assured I will be praying about this situation and your feelings regarding it as well. XXXXXX

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