When a momentous occasion in life comes, we naturally gather friends and family around us to share in our joy. After all, what’s a wedding reception without friends dining and dancing alongside of you? Or, what’s a soon-coming delivery without “the besties” to shower a new mom with gifts for baby?
Jesus shared three parables that each concluded with a communal celebration. Whether it was the lost sheep, the lost coin, or the lost son now found, Jesus said a call would go out for friends and neighbors to come together and rejoice.1 Let us not miss the significance of both important aspects of Jesus’ parables: When something or someone is lost, a passionate pursuit for restoration ensues. The Father in heaven demonstrated the greatest of all pursuits in sending Jesus to seek and save the lost. And, when the dead are made alive by faith in Christ, the joy leading to celebration amongst fellow believers is unmatched and never-ending.
When we become followers of Christ, we immediately look for others with whom we can share our newfound joy. Friendships centered on the faith form easily and continue to be a source of joy throughout life’s journey. The apostle Paul mentioned multiple times the richness of Christian community in his letter to the Philippians. While his body knew confinement in a jail at the time of his writing, his heart knew limitless affection for the believers in Philippi. Paul grants us insight to his intimate connection with them through expressions such as, “I have you in my heart,” and “you whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown.”2 He characterized his prayers for these dear friends as joyful because of their sacrificial partnership with him in the gospel.
The sweetness of relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ is a true treasure God gives us when we come into his family. The Father designed us for community: in connection with himself through faith in Jesus, and in connection with one another. What we have is unlike any other kind of friendship, for ours is sourced in an eternal reality. We are related to one another through shared faith in Jesus, we have a united purpose granting us opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder as we proclaim Jesus’ name and fame, and we have the blessed hope of his return for all faithful believers and his welcoming us into our eternal dwelling.
Perhaps you’re currently experiencing a dry season in your friendships. You’re not alone in feeling alone. The circumstances that brought about an interruption to your usual gatherings of believers are not unique to you. Many have suddenly felt the void of fellowship after a big move or after a departure from the regular routine when a new responsibility ate away at free time. The conflict awaiting resolution also commonly separates friends for a season. But hope remains. Begin by praying to once again know the joy found in being restored and connected with fellow believers.
Churches today regularly offer scheduled group times for people to come together around a shared interest. Of course, we all have the freedom to start groups that gather in our homes or at a meeting place in the community. So, what is an interest you have? Do you think others share in it as well and would benefit from the camaraderie in doing the activity together? What are you waiting for?
1See Luke 15:1-32.
2Philippians 1:7a, 4:1
Article Written by: Renee Beamer