The Art of Spiritual Friendship: Glorifying God in Gospel Relationships

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

~ Psalm 19:1-4 ~

God is speaking is an accurate statement.  The creation of the world continues to pour out speech as surely as the universe is continually expanding.  When we are faced with the order, beauty, symmetry, and vastness of the universe we live in and the universes we are observing now through new technology, Scripture says, we are hearing the voice of God.  There is no speech in which His voice is not heard, no place on the earth where it does not ring out clearly.  What does this say about God as a being?

First, that He is a communicative person.  The idea that he speaks carries with it the idea that He can be heard and understood.  He wants to be known and we can know Him.  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19,20)

The problem of the communication is not with the creator but with us.  That last phrase about us being “without excuse” is important.  Basically, because of our fallen-ness, the Bible says that we don’t want to hear, our ears have become muted to spiritual things, and we don’t want to be held responsible for our actions after hearing the voice of God. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:21-23)

When faced with being maliciously ignored by a broken, foolish, and idolatrous race, God sets about revealing himself all over again in a new way , one that we could not ignore and one that we could not say we didn’t hear.  This new revelation came first through His people in what we call the Old Testament.  There, recorded for us, are His interactions with them over a long period of time.  There we find the Law and Prophets.

Finally, when the time was just right, He sent His own Son, the incarnate God, Jesus Christ, the final and full revelatory expression of God.  This is how He is presented to us in the New Testament.  First, in Galatians we are told that, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4,5)  Then in Hebrews, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:1-3)

What then do we learn about being spiritual friends from God and the Gospel.  First, created in the image of God, you are a speaking being, and the ability to articulate your thoughts and feelings, to reveal yourself to others came from Him.  Second, and also like Him, you have a desire to be known.  Actually because you are broken, you need to be known.  Where God in perfection speaks to make himself known to His world, you, in brokenness, speak to become known in this world, both to yourself and to others.  Third, becoming known to others is a process that takes time.  God revealed himself for thousands of years to His people in little bite sized chunks, and thus, this is the manner in which you receive and walk with Him yourself.  Christianity is about becoming re-related to God, it is about a relationship with God and relationships take time.  The intricacies and depth of your being, reflective of the same in God, cannot possibly be known in one sitting.  So whether you are developing your friendship with God or a spiritual friendship with another person, faith, time and stability are important for the process.  Finally, since revelation can come “at many times and in many ways” be open to your ability to reveal yourself in different ways as well.  Through humor, little notes, long conversations, and sometimes just your presence says as much as is needs to be said.  Be careful not to mis-communicate, through actions and body language, or sometimes just by saying too much.

So what does all this look like in the real world?  Well since there are two sides to this coin, one being the development of your spiritual friendship with God, and the other being the development of a spiritual friendship with another believer, my next article will deal with the elements and themes common to both. Which are as follows: Person, Purpose, Time, and Forms of Communication.  Until then, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, AMEN.

New Book Review

Book Review

If you are interested in international missions work or are interested in learning how to live a more compassionate missional life here in the U.S., today’s book review should interest you.  The book is called Friendship at the Margins by Chris Hueretz and Christian Pohl.  Check it out on my Book Review tab above.  May the Lord be with you.

Also since I reference Word Made Flesh in the review, which is a mission organization headed by one of the authors, I will add the web link at the bottom of my blog for a while.  Go to their site and check them out, your visit will be worth while.

New Features

Devotions

One of the new features of Solomon’s Porch will be online devotions.  For years I have experimented with ways to spend time in the Lord’s presence.  The Psalms have become a fixed part of my daily prayer diet, as they have been for multitudes throughout the centuries, so I thought it would be fitting for the first devotion to come from the first Psalm.  I hope you enjoy.

Book Reviews

I am a voracious reader.  A phrase I teach young and old in my ministry as a teacher in the church is, “If you want to be a leader, you have to be reader.”  Shepherding and learning go hand and hand, to stop learning is to stop leading  I hope to have the first book review up over the next couple of days.  Most of the reviews will concern books on church life and culture, but every now and then I may mix in the review a classic from western literature, as I occasionally make a foray into that field when I need a break from theological reflection.

New Web Link

GoodTheology.com is the new web link.  If you like good theology, as the name purports, especially you people that like to read “Old Dead Guys”, especially in the reformed tradition, then this is the site for you.  Don’t give your cash to amazon, help our friends at goodtheology.com keep the good stuff coming.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all

Jeremy

Returning to God: Generosity as a Gospel Response

Malachi 3:7-12

7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’

8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts.

12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.

What an amazing passage.  Rarely in Scripture do we get such an important question asked and answered in such a succinct fashion.  How shall we return to God?  The clear answer that should ring in our ears, is by living a generous life. Continue reading “Returning to God: Generosity as a Gospel Response”

Living in Light of the Second Coming of Christ Part 1: Gospel Generosity

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

While studying this passage together on Tuesday night at Solomon’s Porch’s weekly meeting, I asked the question, “How should we live in light of the second coming?” Continue reading “Living in Light of the Second Coming of Christ Part 1: Gospel Generosity”

Spiritual Leadership: Developing A Healthy Shepherding Culture

It is easy to talk about being brave, but the confronting of others or being confronted by others is one of the scariest experiences of community life, yet, at the same time, it can be one of the most spiritually rewarding.  The church would be a very different place indeed if Paul had not confronted Peter in Antioch. (see Galatians 2:11-21)  Without that confrontation by a loving, brave spiritual leader it is easy to see that a division of the church would have been immanent along ethnic lines. Continue reading “Spiritual Leadership: Developing A Healthy Shepherding Culture”

Spiritual Authority: The Art of Christian Confrontation

 

After preaching through Malachi 2:1-9 on Spiritual Leadership on Sunday, I told my wife that the difficulty would come in trying to embody the type of brave, loving leadership God desires for His Church.  It is easy to talk about being brave, but the confronting of others or being confronted by others is one of the scariest experiences of community life, yet, at the same time, it is also one of the most spiritually rewarding.  Continue reading “Spiritual Authority: The Art of Christian Confrontation”

The Gospel: “A Story to be Told and Lived”

On Tuesday night we discussed 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12,

9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,

10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,

11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,

12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

The entire conversation we had on Tuesday night revolved around one question that I asked based out of verse nine.  The question was, “What are some ways God teaches us to love one another?”  Continue reading “The Gospel: “A Story to be Told and Lived””