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Make a Friend

Little boys walking

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 NIV)

The first followers of Jesus Christ devoted themselves to God and to one another. They focused on the teaching of the Apostles, on fellowship with one another, on the Lord's supper and meals together in their homes, and on prayer. They even sold possessions and gave to anyone who had need. They met in the temple and broke bread together in their homes. They paid attention to their friendship with God and found great love, great power and great witness in their friendships with one another.

This is what we were created for. Human beings are social beings who were created for relationship with God and relationships with one another. Our fall into sin has corrupted the love of our hearts to the place where intimacy opens us to deep hurts rather than filling the place of acceptance and love it was meant to fulfill. As a result, many of us only make relationships on the surface, guarding our hearts against the deep hurt that can come with deep relationships.

We are the most connected people in history with our cell phones, texting, social media and Google. And yet there is an epidemic of loneliness taking place in our culture. To try to fill the aching need for acceptance and love, some turn to addiction to social media that doesn't quite substitute for real human companionship. Some have practiced rampant sexual encounters with multiple partners - hookups that complicate real friendship and still do not fulfill the ache for real intimacy and deep relationship.

The kind of fellowship and friendship described in the Book of Acts among the first followers of Jesus is the real deal. It forms a place where real, deep friendships can take place and the love of Christ flows between people in powerful ways. It is what the church is meant to be, and it is what every human being needs.

Jesus is all about deeper friendships. In the three years of His public ministry, he spent boatloads of time with twelve particular disciples, loving them, teaching them, living life with them and preparing them to demonstrate to the world the power and peace and joy of a life that is connected deeply to Him and to others. When He sent them out to witness, He sent them two-by-two. He summarized all the commands of God in two simple ones: love God with your whole being and love others as you love yourself.

Even in those two simple commands there is a deep truth embedded. There can be no such thing as a solitary Christian. One must be in a love relationship with the Living God and practice relationships of love with other people. We cannot do real Christianity alone. And we were never meant to live our lives alone.

As a matter of fact, the thing that prompted God to create Eve after Adam was this simple principle:

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

I want to be clear here. I fully believe some people are called to a life of singleness, and can be fully fulfilled without being married. But nobody is called to a life of reclusive solitude. We were not created for loneliness, we were created for relationship. First with God and then with one another. This is God's greatest gift and His most compelling command. The only way to live a full human life is in relationships.

So it becomes important to put down our devices and actually interact with other human beings, sharing life and joys and hurts and everything else with people who care for us and for whom we care. We need families and friendships and a church full of caring and prayer and friendships to thrive as followers of Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to fill our lives with the love of Jesus to make that a reality.

I have to ask myself: do I have friends? Do I give and receive love in my family, my church and my social circles? Am I starved for love and affection because my relationships are only surface relationships and not real friendships? Am I giving and receiving love in the quality and quantity needed for human thriving?

If the answer to these questions is "No, not really," then I likely have a heart that is closed off behind a wall of protection because of past wounds in relationships. And God wants to heal and set free a heart like that by loving us directly, by loving us through others, and by our loving Him and others in healthy and holy ways.

I want to live like the first Christians. I want to devote myself to truth (the Apostles' teachings), to fellowship (to real, deep friendships), to the breaking of bread (to the spiritual meal of Holy Communion and to meals with friends), and to prayer (to intimacy with the Father and intercession for others). And in the course of living that out, I will trust that God will meet the deep longing He put in each of us for love and acceptance, and that it will be sufficient to overcome loneliness.

How about you?


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