Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Time Is Tight

 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers
- Philemon 1:4

Newsflash! Time is Tight is not just an excellent Booker T & The MG's song.   It's also a reality; our time together is precious and yet, so (upsettingly!) easy to take for granted.   We don't know how long we'll be around (i.e. employed in this community or alive!) to enjoy fellowship with one another.  

I have a dear friend who, along with his family, will move away from our community this week.   At their going-away dinner last night it occurred to me that their leaving serves as a pointed (...and painful) reminder that our time together in Christian fellowship is not something "we deserve", but instead it is evidence of God's infinite love and never-leaving, never-forsaking presence in our lives.   

That he uses each of us to minister to one another in miraculously unique ways (a shared breakfast, a spontaneous phone call, or a hand to hold in a time of grief) is proof of his creative and redemptive grace at work in our lives.   These friendships are all for naught if they do not consistently point us beyond ourselves and towards greater joy and thanksgiving for a God who meets our needs through our brothers and sisters.

Our fellowship is not perfect by any means and it is not without it's rough patches, but the constancy and transparency that characterize friendships touched by and drenched in God's grace reflect the character of God and results in a miniature picture to the world of His covenant love for us.....and the blessed by-product is that these relationships also edify us spiritually and fortify us for the days ahead.   The more we love (philia - friendship love) one another, the more our hearts are molded into the likeness of Christ, the friend of sinners.

AND GET THIS!  Our Christian friendships are eternal, which means what we do together now as believers, we will do for eternity....we are participating in the desire of God for our eternal lives when we love one another here and now.

C.S. Lewis wrote on the occasion of he and J.R.R. Tolkein's good friend's (Charles Williams) death....

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [JRR Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.” 
- The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis

If that's not an argument for the value of our friendships then I don't know what is.  
The time is tight - thank God for your friends and let God love your friends through you!

Grace and Peace,

We love you Matt and Angela - Peace be with you!

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