Our Oldest Friendships

Challenge Central: a CBC devotional

By: Pastor Lars Janssen

Who is your oldest friend?

Depending on your age, you may have known this person for a long time. My three oldest friendships began in grade school—two of them have been my friends since kindergarten (over 30 years). Some of you have known me for that long too. Knowing someone for such a long time tends to breed a particular kind of steadiness.

Think about your oldest friend again. Perhaps you’re like me with my friends. Whether you see them regularly or not, every time you get together, you just pick up where you left off. Even if six months or a year has passed, it might as well have been a few days. You can say things to an old friend that you wouldn’t say to a new acquaintance. You can be very direct and count on the context of many years to couch difficult discussions in love. You have precious jokes and experiences that others in the room just won’t understand. In a crisis, you wouldn’t think twice about phoning this person in the middle of the night. The friendship bears the sturdiness of context. And all of this is describing friendships that stretch backward in time.

What about friendships that stretch forward in time?

That may sound a little funny, but think about what Paul is saying to his fellow Christians in Philippians 3:13-14. “13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The “it” he’s referring to in verse 13 is “the resurrection from the dead” from verse 11. Paul is telling his Christian friends—with whom he has a friendship that stretches backward in time—that what lies ahead far outweighs the past. His friendship with the Philippians began in the past but will carry on for eternity because of the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

This way of looking at Christian relationships gives them a weight no length of earthly time can match. Paul reinforces this perspective in verses 15-16 by saying, “15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” What we have attained is everlasting life with Christ. That everlasting life includes all of our Christian brothers and sisters.

Here is the essence of setting “your minds on things that are above” (Col. 3:2) when it comes to our relationships. Our oldest friends are precious. We enjoy them and the easy nature of our time with them. But however long they’ve been our friends, every Christian friend holds an even weightier call on our loyalty.

What are 30 years or even 70 years when held up to eternity?

Central Family, it is certain that your Christian friends will be your oldest friends because of the promised “upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” That’s why we must be quick to forgive each other and ready to enjoy each other.

Because of Jesus, these friendships stretch forward into eternity.

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