Linda and I have had the joy of hosting a friend for the week. We have known Ben Glupker as long as we have known each other. All three of us counseled at Camp Barakel back in the mid-90’s. He is that kind of friend that has kept in touch over the years. He visited us at our trailer in South Carolina while I was in seminary. We visited him in Louisville while he was in seminary. He was an usher in our wedding. And we tried to make it to his wedding, but only made it in time for the reception because we didn’t have the church address and that was before the days of GPS and cell phones . . .
We have spent some time discussing friendship over the course of this week. The real cause of his visit with us has been to get away for a week to focus time and attention on his church mission and vision statement. God has placed friendship as a core value on his heart.
As we have talked I have been moved to consider what we mean by community at ReCAST Church. I am constantly encouraging us to grow in faith, grow in community, and grow in service. This is the vision of ReCAST Church. That we would be increasing in our trust in God, be drawing together in vital, authentic relationships together, and that we would be using our abilities and talents to serve others in better ways.
I believe that friendship is a good word for growing in community. Friendship is a gift but it is also a calling and a noble pursuit. Friendships require effort. They require listening, understanding, and care. I am convinced that we are a culture that is not doing great in the realm of friendships.
We are busy. We value independence. We don’t listen well.
If there is anywhere that this should NOT be the case, it is within the body of Christ. We are a gathering of people who are called to love one another, to bear with one another, to forgive one another, to be generous with one another. Further, we are a gathering of people defined by our dependence. We are a people who already have humbled ourselves before our Savior in need of forgiveness. This places all of us within the church in a ready position to show kindness, mercy and love to others. And lastly, we are a people who are poised to listen. We follow a God who communicates. He speaks to us through his Word. We are listeners.
I am not suggesting that the church is the only place where friendship can be found, but I am suggesting that a church is a place where friendship MUST be found. A church is a gathering of people for connection in the community of Jesus Christ. I have been told over the years that ReCAST is a welcoming church. That is great if you are visitor. But my hope is that ReCAST is equally a friendly church.
And regardless of where you gather for the cause of Christ, I encourage you to BE a friend. Go out of your way to slow down and take time for others. Recognize your need for others and their need for you. And listen well. I cherish the time I am able to spend with good friends. But if I am honest, I do not make this as much of a priority as it should be in my life. How about you?