The Friendship Dare

February 28, 2012

Tuesday Re-mix – 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”  Matthew 28:19a

I can remember pretty vividly how I felt at the births of both my daughters.  Those feelings will no doubt stay in my memory long after the details of the events have left me.  In both cases, God made us wait until long after we thought we were ready.  So when they came, I was overjoyed and thrilled and excited and so very ready to be a daddy!  With Elizabeth, my older, I can still remember taking her little hand for the very first time in Seton Hospital in Austin.  I remember thinking, “What a huge responsibility this will be…I can’t wait to get started!”  I had an attitude of extreme gratitude for the opportunity God had given me and of sober responsibility for how much work nurturing this child would be.

What if we in the church had a similar attitude about new friendships? What if we saw each new friendship in our lives as a God-ordained friendship and treated it as if God had given us a responsibility for it?  What if we prayed expectantly for God to “birth” such new friendships in our lives and then jumped into them with both feet when He answered that prayer?  Oh, how that would change the church!

We in the evangelical world often talk about “just sharing the gospel” and leaving the results up to God.  I do think that is an important perspective.  There is our part in that process and there is God’s part, and it agree that it is important not to confuse the two.  But I also think that “just sharing and leaving the results up to God” lets us off the hook of the Great Commission.  Jesus did not say, “Therefore go and share the gospel with all nations…”.  He could have said that.  But He did not say that.  The task with which He charged us was, “Therefore go and MAKE DISCIPLES…”  Isn’t that a taller order than just throwing seed out on the ground and walking away?  Isn’t the Great Commission more than just publishing a blog post containing the gospel and being done?

As a consultant to churches in the area of conflict and relationships in ministry, I have come to believe that the biggest challenge to unity in the body of Christ today is not the brokenness of relationships, it is the widespread lack of any relationships at all.  This is true not only at the global “body of Christ” level, but (even more troubling) at the level of the local church as well.  The reality is, if you are an average American church-goer, there are scores, maybe hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in your own church with whom you have no connection whatsoever.  Furthermore, if you are an average church-goer, you are not really even looking for new friendships in your life.  So when they do come, you likely miss the whole “this is my responsibility” opportunity.

Think about this.  For a revolution that is supposed to be all about relationships and forging new friendships, we in the church have gotten amazingly good at doing all the activities of church without having to mess with the responsibility of relationships.  There are, I am sure, a myriad of reasons for this.  Relationships are painful, they are messy, they require too much vulnerability, too much time and energy, they are inefficient and they are unpredictable.  If there is a way to do all the activities of a busy church and keep relationships–especially new relationships–at a minimum, we will do it.  And we have done it.  And we have done it pretty well.

But that is not what Jesus did.  That is not what He modeled for us.  As I read the gospels, it appears to me that He spent virtually every waking hour either in prayer or investing in relationships.  Every day, every night, walking among people and making new friends.  He woke up each day hoping and expecting that God would “birth” new friendships in His life that day.  And then He nurtured those friendships and grew them, at least as much as they would permit.

So here is a dare for you this week: I dare you to pray for a new friendship in your life, either at work or at school or at church or at your bowling league or your yoga class or somewhere else in your week…and when God brings you that friendship, I dare you to treat it as a newborn baby and, with gratitude in your heart, begin to nurture it and grow it and marvel at how God uses it.  And then I dare you to do it again next week.  And again the week after that.

Go ahead.  I dare you to actually become the church He intended us to be.  Watch what happens!

© Blake Coffee
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6 thoughts on “The Friendship Dare

  1. phariseeinrecovery

    How did Jesus MAKE disciples? Here are a few examples that support what you just blogged.
    Luke 19:5 NIV
    When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

    Here Jesus makes a disciple by giving Zacchaeus the significance and friendship Zacchaeus always needed.

    John 4:18 NIV
    The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

    Here Jesus by telling the woman at the well her current situation shows her that He knows everything about her and loves her so much that he went to meet her in spite of the cultural boundaries and taboos connecting with speaking to a Samaritan woman.

    John 8:7 NIV
    When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

    Here Jesus makes a disciple by saving a woman from the law and protecting her from her accusers.

    Matthew 26:10 NIV
    Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

    Here Jesus makes a disciple by appreciating the beautiful thing she has done for him.

    Luke 22:32 NIV
    But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

    Here Jesus makes Peter a stronger disciple by showing unconditional love to Peter, before Peter has even denied Him Jesus is looking to when Peter turns back to serve his brothers. Instead of cutting Peter off because of his weak moment, Jesus shows how he remains in relationship with Peter in spite of Peter’s upcoming weakness in humanity.

    Jesus made disciples by loving people.

    Reply
  2. Blake

    Henry- Great illustrations from the gospels!

    Elizabeth- Of course you are my favorite.

    JD- Of course you are my favorite.

    Mikel- But just know that I am not above triple-dog daring you if I have to!

    Reply
  3. sharon

    Some of the reason for not “being” the church is the fear or lack of
    faith in the power that we are suppose to have in our lives. To lay hands on the sick, speak deliverance to the captive, call sin sin.
    All these things are only our part. The power comes from the Holy Spirit within to manifest.
    Yes I agree we have been lazy too long……….

    Reply

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