Listen: "Friends" by Michael W. Smith.
This is the season for Church Annual Meetings! It's a time we look back on the prior year, as a way to build a foundation to forge ahead. Often, it is a time we remember those who have moved forward -- either passed on to the Lord, moved for other reasons. Sometimes it is us who have moved forward and said good-bye. It's important to take the time to recognize the importance of friendships in our lives.
Jesus, on the night before he died, spent his precious remaining hours with his friends. After washing their feet, he gave them the new commandment, "to love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). Having said this, he calls his disciples friends. He has given them everything, held back nothing. He lived with them, cared for them, went through the ups and downs of life with them. He taught them, challenged them, and called out their potential. Because that's what friends do for each other.
Friendship is vital to our spiritual growth. Remember when Jesus sent his disciples out "two by two" (Mark 6:7)? Was this for safety's sake? Because "two heads are better than one?" Yes -- but also because Jesus wants us to model friendship. To care. To share. To love, to take care of each other. Christ's Church is about relationship. First with God in Jesus, then with each other. A healthy, growing church takes the time to build relationships. For us to be spiritually healthy, we must forge friendships.
Reflection: Think back on your key friendships over your lifetime. What have your friends taught you?