Do you have relationships that have stood the test of time? You know the ones I’m talking about. Despite the distance in miles or the time between visits, when you are with that person, it’s like you’ve never been apart. Solomon certainly knew of these relationships when he penned Proverbs 18:24, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” How is it that a friend can be “closer than a brother”? This is often true of friendships among believers. A recent discussion between my husband and me about relationships prompted an unexpected expression of loss. “I miss Mike”, he said. Mike is my husband’s best friend. Twenty-two years ago Jeff came to Christ through a men’s bible study that Mike was leading. For 16 years they met regularly on Saturday mornings and shared the triumphs and trials of life. Even now, when they are in Houston at the same time, they are a well-known duo at the Starbucks in our neighborhood. My husband often receives his tall coffee with cold soy milk without having to utter a word at the counter. When Jeff wanted to run a marathon, he trained with Mike and they ran it together. When Jeff wanted believer’s baptism, Mike did the dunking. These two men, unrelated by birth, share a familial bond nonetheless. It’s just one of those relationships; faithful, unconditional, enduring…closer than a brother.
Born for All
There is a difference at the heart of relationships within the body of Christ. A difference that is revealed in some of the dialogue surrounding the events of Jesus’ birth. First, the angel of the Lord’s announcement to the shepherds, “… Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11). Second, Simeon’s emotional prophecy reveals the heart of a steadfast believer whose been promised a glimpse of the Messiah. He says, “…For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”(Luke 2:30-32) All people, all nations. Jesus’ birth swung open the doors for all who believe to become children of God, regardless of their race, ethnicity, heritage, status or family. Those who are born again are adopted into God’s family and therefore, share a unique fellowship. What holds this fellowship together and gives it uniqueness? Paul speaks of it when he says, “…Because you are of his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6-7) The children of God share the Spirit of God. We live, think, act and communicate in a way that sets us apart from the rest of the world and puts us in unison with one another and with Christ. Regardless of our origins, that, my friends, is what holds us together. That is what is at the heart of our divinely different relationships.
This Christmas, we are thousands of miles from our homes. But where do we really reside? Even though our passports bear the seals of our countries of citizenship from all over the world, our real citizenship is eventually in a far better place. For now, our adoption into God’s family gives us a home no matter where we are. I love C.S. Lewis’s quote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” Is this not especially true of those who share the Spirit of God?
When I moved to Dubai I did not expect to find such vibrant fellowship of believers. In fact, I had been told to expect otherwise. What a blessing you are to me! I am thankful for each and every one of the relationships I have made in my time here and for the ones I left behind in the states. I know that I could meet you anywhere and anytime and it would be as if we had never been apart. Praise God that we can love each other in this way!