Sunday, July 18, 2010

Being a Wise Friend and Disciple

I don't remember the last time I sat in my house where there was no husband, no kids, and even no dog!  I am all alone as I start writing this (Thursday 7/15)!  It's such a peaceful place.  I know it's been a long, long time since I've written anything too meaningful...maybe I never have.  But nevertheless, here I sit with things to write about.  We have been very busy and I have been very overwhelmed with information.  I don't know where to start most of the time and I don't always feel led to write.  The last couple of mornings during my quiet time the Lord prompting me on a lesson of friendship and being a disciple.  I know I have said this a hundred times but I have to say it again.  I am so amazed how God puts things in my lap...the same topic in several different books, articles, life experiences, etc.  He for sure knows that I am a slow learner and need things repeated before I really learn something and can apply it in my own life.  I am still reading "On Being a Servant of God" where this morning's reading focused on loyalty.  I just finished the summer bible study which had 2 sessions on "Being a Wise Friend".  I am also reading the book called "Radical" by David Platt where the chapter I just finished talks about discipleship.  These three things go together in my opinion and I am so thankful to see them all at the same time and connect some dots.  (Note:   the book "Radical" is a MUST read.  It is so powerful.  I think the next time I write, I may do sort of a book review and take a look at each chapter with you.  Every person could benefit in reading this book.)

In our Wising Up study, we looked at what being a wise friend should look like.  In the Book of Proverbs, friendshiop can be charactereized by the following elements:
  • Distinctiveness
  • Endurance
  • Earnest Counsel
  • Trustworthiness
  • Risk
Breaking each one down, we can say this about:
  • Distinctiveness - Kidner writes "Proverbs itself is emphatic that a few close friends are better than a host of acquaintances, and stand in a class all by themselves."  We learned that the way most of us define a friend is more like the definition of acquaintance.  I learned that I really don't have that many "friends" but I have a ton of acquaintances.  Some differences between the two:
    • Acquaintance - socially satisfying, less than a friendship, not close, cognitive (head to head), staged
    • Friendship - emotionally satisfying (engages the heart), love, volunteers to/willing, common interests, personal, closeness, not staged, two-way, sharpens each other, committment (desire it, fight for it, covet it), heart to heart
I had thought all this time that a friend was someone I knew pretty well and had normal conversations with.  When I really looked at the difference there were not many of those friends where we've had 2-way heart to heart, not staged conversations.  I may have shared things with them but they didn't share with me or vise versa.

  • Endurance - Beth used the phrase in the study:  "I love you now and I'll love you when...because you're my friend".  I love you even when you're not lovable or when you don't need me, etc.  She talked about how we need to focus...Just like we can't do 1000 things well and to the glory of God, we can't be a good friend to everyone well.  We were called to love the world, but should draw in a close friend.  Proverbs 18:24 - "The man of many friends (a friend to all the world) will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother"
  • Earnest counsel - Proverbs 27:9 - "So doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel".  Beth says this kind of cousel is from the heart to the heart.  It's when you can work through a plan together (2way)
  • Trustwortiness - Proverbs 27:5-6 - "Far better the wound should be probed than covered."  Commentator Bridges says "Rebuke, kindly, considerately, and prayerfully administered, CEMENTS friendship rather than loosens it". We often think the opposite...we run from confront means to offront to most of us.  Beth says "If a friendship cannot survive a well meant wound, it was never substantial to begin with."  But how many times do we do as Bridges suggests - kindly, considerately and prayerfully - before confronting a friend?  Usually we have a mean motive behind it or say something and then say "Just joking" behind it.  Contrast Proverbs 26:19 NLT " someone who lies to a friend and then says, 'I was only joking'"  Beth says "meanspirited joking is a cover up for a wound of your own in that friendship"...OUCH.  How many of us can say that we've use that "just joking" statement even when we were serious?  It's a cover up!!  There is a difference between a mean motive and a well meant motive.  Beth says "Wounds from a friend are ALWAYS meant for healing".  So if you are wounding for another reason you are not a faithful wounder, you are a perpetual wounder!  I have been both and seen both in friendship!  It reminds me to always pray about things first - in everything!
  • Risk - Beth says "No one can betray you that's not close to you"   Think about that for a second...they have to be close to you in order to betray you.  We often say things like "But she was my best friend..."  Only someone that close to you can betray you.  Gossip is the #1 betrayal of close friends.  Psalm 55: 4-6, 12 says "My heart pounds in my chest.  The terror of death assualts me.  Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can't stop shaking.  Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest"  What ever could he be running from?  12:  "It is not an ememy who taunts me - I could bear that.  It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me - I could have hidden from them.  13: Instead it is you -  my equal, my companion, and CLOSE friend".  Proverbs 17:9 - "covers - to fill up hollows; to cover (for clothing or secrecy)".  A friend covers a secrecy and in clothing.  A friend does not share with others what was told to her in secrecy.  We were challenged to tell it all to God as if we would be telling it to someone else.  She said you will have the same release type of feeling telling it to God as you would to someone else.  Pray over it!  Gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28)!
  • Loyalty - A separate thing I read this morning in "On Being a Servant of God" was about loyalty and humility.  Warren challenged me to see loyalty and humility in this passage in Philippians 2:1-4.  "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."  To go along with this passage Warren says "It's fine to affirm our loyalty to Christ, so long as we remember that being loyal to the Lord also means being loyal to one another.  If we are really true to the Lord, we'll be Christlike in the way we treat otehr people, especially those who disagree with us."
  • Discipleship - David says in his book Radical  " First, according to Jesus, disciple making involves going.  It involves intentionally taking the gospel to people where they live, work, play.  Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a command for us to go to others to share the gospel.  A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves...Disciple making is not about a program or an event but about a relationship...Making disciples is not an easy process. It is trying.  It is messy.  It is slow, tedious, even painful at times.  It is all these things because it is relational.  Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory.  He has given us people and he has said 'Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them.  Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me. In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth'".  The bible tells us to "go and make disciples of all nations.  David takes it a step further and says "Disciple making involves identifying with a community of believers who show love to one another and share life with one another as we live together for the glory of God. Being a part of community of faith involves being exposed to the life of Christ in others...So to whom can you deliberately, intentionally, and sacrificially show the life of Christ in this way?  This is foundational in making disciples, and we will multiply the gospel only when we allow others to get close enough to us to see the life of Christ in action" 
Do you see how discipleship fits into how to be a wise friend?  I would have never made the connection between friendship and discipleship if I hadn't been reading these things side by side.  I can't help but think of how it was when I was growing up (and it's still this way in schools, workplaces, etc)'s about many friends someone has.  I have had a lot of friends (now I know these were acquaintances) and I wasn't that happy.  I wasn't happy because I wasn't really that close with any of them.  All our conversations were head to head - not heart to heart, and most of the environments were staged.  Meaning that if we couldn't meet at the same lunch table, the same meeting table, the same bar every week, we didn't get together.  Not getting close to someone cause I didn't want to take the risk.  Not enduring in a friend relationship because...well, because I just didn't have to.  If you hurt me, I'll just move on.  That's the benefit of being able to choose friends, right?  Family...I'm stuck with, but you?  I don't need you.  But what if we don't have to need each other but we just want each other?  What if we sharpen each other?  What if we are making disciples of each other or making disciples together?  As I was writing this and saving it as a draft over the past few days, I read this in my morning quiet in Warren's book (not David's) time 2 days ago "Even the Lord once said to his disciples, "How long shall I be with you and bear you?" (Luke 9:41).  The word translated "bear" means "to put up with"."  But no matter how much His disciples hurt him, betrayed Him, lost faith in Him, didn't trust Him, broke His heart, He went right back to His place of duty, into the presence of God. The Lord's example is one worth noting and following.  I keep hearing that the Lord had 12 disciples and even out of those 12, He had a few to which he was the closest to.  David Platt continues on in this chapter and says "The reality is, you can't share life like this with masses and multitudes.  Jesus didn't.  He spent three years with twelve guys.  If the Son of God thought it necessary to focus his life on a small group of men, we are fooling ourselves to think we can mass-produce disciples today."

David continues with more on discipleship but I feel this is getting long and maybe a little off track from the topic of friendship.  I could quote all of David's book because it's just that good but then you might as well buy it and read it for yourself!  I know I did a lot of quoting today but I found the information so profound and so worth sharing word for word by each source.  It's good to see it all in one place...I feel better!  Maybe it's information just for me or maybe you can find something good in it too.  Either way, I can't wait to see what God's going to do with it in my life.  I sit here overwhelmed with what, Lord?  What have I been doing?  Not much right, that's for sure!  I pray that God doesn't have me write all this stuff out just because I need it (Lord knows I do) but I pray someone else can use it too!  As Beth says, "Lord, don't let me be up here talking to 3000 people about this topic just so I can deal with my own issues".  Okay, so I only have 9 "followers"...but hey, that's pretty close to 12!

There is some other info in David's book on discipling that I feel is worth sharing...the whole chapter in my book is almost all highlighted yellow.  I'll probably write it all out in the next couple of days after this has soaked in a little. 

I'll leave you with a verse I have heard a couple of times recently (today being one of them):

2 Chronicles 16:9 - "The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.  What a fool you have been!"

1 comment:

leah said...

I really love the connection you made between friendship and discipleship. After doing the Beth Moore study, I was left feeling that I take my friendships far too lightly. It was great to share this study with you this summer, Lindsay!