God is a repetitive designer. When He creates something that works well, he repeats that design in all forms of nature. Take birds and fish for instance. Birds are known for traveling in flocks, fish travel in schools. They gather in groups with similar purpose and travel together while fulfilling their purpose.
God continued that design when he formed the first church. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 18:20 to get together in groups. (For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.) This past week I have been asked to take on the task of building a new Sunday school group at our church. So I’ve spent the last week laying the foundation as to what this class is going to be all about. I have decided that my class is going to focus on connecting with other Christians as we walk God’s path. I want this class to turn into a group of friends who look forward to getting together once a week and celebrating the things that God is doing in their lives. I’ve even decided that the “motto” for our class is going to be 1 John 1:3-4, We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
Now, if God is all powerful, why do we need to find a group of friends? What could a group of fellow believers provide that God, the great provider, cannot?
In the book, “Lists To Live By,” (compiled by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens, and John Van Diest) there is an article called “Five Reasons We Need Friends.” This is the simplest way of stating the importance of friends that I have found.
- 1. Friends Provide Perspective. There are so many times that we get bogged down in a problem that we cannot see the solution to. It sometimes takes some thinking outside the box to see the best way to approach a situation. That is what friend does. A good friend does this without patronizing.
- 2. Friends Provide Company. God understood early on that we just aren’t wired to be alone. I spend 9 hours a day in a truck by myself, and it’s a good thing I have my cell phone. I can be lost in the monotony of dumping dumpsters and a call from a friend or a funny text message provides variety to my day.
- 3. Friends Provide a Place to Vent. Sometimes things just set us off. There is not really anything we can do about it. It’s not anything even significant. But a friend is there to hear you unload. Then sometimes they can help you put it in perspective and help you re-focus on what is important.
- 4. Friends Provide Accountability. Our friends are the ones we let see what is in our closet. I pass people every day who I know nothing about, and they know nothing about me. Sure I may seem like a mild mannered well dressed man, but what am I like at home? I heard a radio psychologist say once that we all need to have a friend who we aren’t ashamed to let them see the moldy cheese we have in our refrigerator. And we allow or friends to be critical of us because we trust them. I know I’d be a lot more comfortable with my best friend telling me my cheese was molded than I would hearing it from the Avon lady. We are more willing to change our ways when a friend tells us.
- 5. Friends Provide Encouragement. I can be having a really crappy day, and I get a Facebook message, or text from a friend telling me something encouraging and things begin to look up. That’s why we make friends in the first place; we find people who help us feel better about ourselves.
I am a huge NASCAR fan, and those who know me have been waiting for me be bring a NASCAR story into my devotionals, so here it is. Each week the race teams build what they think is the best car for the upcoming race. When they roll it off the truck they are sure that it is the best they can build. Then they get on the track to practice. They run side by side with other cars. Very soon they find out who still has work to do. The pull into the garage and make a few tweaks. Then get back on the track to compare themselves with the other cars. I’ve seen cars that were the worst in the first practice come full circle and win on race day. If they didn’t spend that time comparing their setups with the other racers they would have never known what it would take to win.
The same can be applied to us. Left alone we can convince ourselves that we are the best we can be. But once we get in a small group of friends we can learn where we need to tweak our lives toward serving God more effectively. We allow our strengths to help strengthen others where they are weak, and we allow our weaknesses to be strengthened by our friends. There is no greater truth than that found in ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12: Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Do you have a flock to join? If not, find one, we weren’t designed to fly solo.
Brocke Lively is a lifelong Texan from a little town called Olton.
Brocke and his wife, Lela, have 5 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 chickens, and what seems like a revolving door of neighbor kids coming over to play. As a father, Brocke recognizes that how he lives his life, and how he worships God not only reflects on his own salvation, but ripples to how his kids worship God.
Brocke attends a small town church where he is known as an on-call substitute Sunday school teacher. He recognizes that his church family is also a large part of who he is, and who he want his kids to grow up to be; God-fearing followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.