Friends for the Journey

– Pastor Brandon’s article from the January 2017 Newsletter

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you’ve had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with family and friends. This season tends to be a time when we emphasize the value of togetherness. We throw parties and visit family members who are far away. We gather around tables to share meals, and we look forward to giving gifts to one another. We want our loved ones to be near and to share quality time with us. We long to connect or reconnect and simply be with those we love. With all of this connectedness in mind, I want to invite you to reflect on a question as we enter this new year: Who is going with you on this journey of life?

Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve been working my way through the book of Ephesians as I’ve written these articles for the last year and a half. As we now come to the end of the book, we are presented with a great challenge for the new year. I want to take a look at the closing of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.

Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (Ephesians 6:21-24)

We can sometimes be tempted to overlook these few verses at the end of each letter. They often name people and refer to situations that we have little information about, and they may seem irrelevant to our own lives. However, I think they contain important perspective for us. As we look at how Paul interacts with those around him, we can learn a great deal about how we are to relate with those in our own communities.

Notice how Paul refers to Tychichus. He calls him a dear brother and a faithful servant in the Lord. My simple question this month is this: Do you have people in your life who fit this description, people who are both dear friends and fellow followers of Jesus? Certainly, we are called to be friendly and to love everyone including our enemies, but is there someone in your life whom you would call a true friend, someone who knows what you’re doing and knows who you are?

As followers of Christ, we are called to live in community with one another. This means that we must be engaged in relationships that go beyond the quick “Hi, how are ya?” that has become customary in our culture. Our relationships need to go much deeper than that. While it’s not possible to have an intimate friendship with everyone you meet, we do need a few true friends–people in your life who really know you and the condition of your soul. Developing these kinds of companions for life’s journey takes time and intentionality, but the investment is well worth it. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, between you and God. Rather, God calls us into a vibrant community of love with other believers, and he often works through these kinds of relationships to grow us in Christ.

Who are the people with whom you walk through life? Who encourages you, coaches you, cheers you on? Who mourns with you and comes alongside in the midst of difficulty? Are there people who can lovingly correct and rebuke you? With whom do you laugh and play? Who stretches you and challenges you to draw closer to God along life’s journey?

As you read this, you may find yourself with an abundance of deep friendships. Or maybe, when you take an honest look at your life, you realize such relationships are somewhat lacking. Whatever the case, I invite you to ask yourself how you might grow in this area in the coming year. What steps might you take to truly connect with others and develop the abiding friendships that God will use to sustain you over the long haul?

Peace to you, brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Pastor Brandon