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Saturday, October 09, 2010

holy friendships, pt. 1

There are two kinds of people in the world.

There are those who are turned or turning toward God and there are those who are turned or turning away from God.

When Jesus commanded us to love God with all we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves, he (among other things) enjoined us to holy friendships. That is, to friendships that weren't about "what I can get out of it" or even "what the other can get out of it" but "what God would do in our neighbor's life."

Barnabas was a good friend. In Acts 11 we read that the Jerusalem apostles sent him to Antioch, where a number of Greeks had believed when they heard the story of Jesus. Greeks! Not God's covenant people, but Greeks! So Barnabas went. And he demonstrated what holy friendship looks like toward those who are turned or turning toward God.

He saw the evidence of God's grace and he REJOICED. He was thrilled to see non-Jews believing in the covenant God through Jesus Christ. It didn't matter that it was "out of the box" or a little alien or a lot different than how things had been done. He was full of joy because it's what God was doing.

He ENCOURAGED these Greek believers, wisely exhorting them to hold fast to this exciting and young faith. He shows us that "running the race" is not a solo endeavor, but more like soccer, working as a team with the goal being Christ.

When God brought "success" in Antioch, he didn't set credit himself, but went to invite Paul to join him, adding Paul's gifts and strength to his own. He PUT GOD'S PLAN FIRST, even over personal ambition. And he and Paul were COMMITTED and PERSEVERING, staying for a year to teach the new converts in Antioch.

These character traits, flowing out of the Holy Spirit living in us, are all ways that we can spur one another on towards Jesus.

When others are turned or turning towards Jesus, a holy friendship like that of Barnabas can bring others to a closer relationship and obedience to Christ. That is true friendship.

[Next: holy friendship towards those turned or turning away from God...]

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