Monday, August 10, 2015

Rethinking Biblical Friendship

It's been nearly two months since I announced my summer reading plan. I confess I've only read one of those books. Even though I finished it six weeks ago, The Hardest Peace has stayed with me. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about Kara Tippetts and what I can learn from her life - and her death.
I had never heard of Kara or her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, until news of her death took over social media. Curious, I started reading her blog in the days following her death. I read stories of how friends loved her. Genuinely, sacrificially, with Christ-like love. I want to be loved like that! I thought.

Not long afterwards, the blog began a series entitled Kindred Spirits. Kara's friends - the ones who loved her so well - wrote about genuine, sacrificial Christ-like love. They were talking about Kara's love for them. Many of them met her just weeks before her cancer diagnosis; their relationships were forged during the hardest part of Kara's life. Yet each one feels Kara was her best friend. As I read, it became clear to me that they were able to love her so well because she modeled that very love for them.

Reading Kara's blog and The Hardest Peace have made me realize that too often my love has limits. It is conditioned upon convenience. It isn't the clean-out-the-messy-refrigerator, foot-rubbing, vomit-cleaning sort of love that Kara's friends lavished upon her. I'm sure it wasn't the type of love they envisioned they'd ever have to offer, but they did because she had poured out deep-soul-conversing, grace-giving, no-excuses love on them.

"...friendship flourishes best when we seek to be and embody the type of friend we see in God himself," writes Jonathan Holmes. He goes on to say,
Biblical friendship is intended by God as an all-encompassing spiritual discipline that engages every aspect of who we are: how we think (cognition), feel (emotion), and act (volition). The biblical practice of friendship can be an embodied journey where together we progressively fulfill our calling as God's children.
Holmes' book The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship has been a helpful follow-up to The Hardest Peace. It has caused me to examine my friendships, both online and off. It has convicted me of my selfishness and sinfulness as a friend. And it has caused me to pray diligently for the Lord to provide opportunities for me to have - and more importantly, to be - a biblical friend. It's not enough to be loved as Kara was. I want to love as she did.

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