Christian friendship: A gift from God

Christian friendship: A gift from God
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Stephen Rees
Stephen Rees Stephen Rees is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Stockport.
21 December, 2021 11 min read

One of my dearest friends has departed from this world. You will read elsewhere in ET an appreciation of Alec Taylor. Alec was an older man than myself and we lived several hours’ drive apart. But over recent years, we chatted over the phone almost every week. I know that he prayed for me every day. I shall miss him sorely. He leaves a very large gap.

I think of other friends to whom I’m close in other ways. I would like to think that many members of the congregation here think of me not only as their pastor, but as a friend. I certainly lean on some of them very heavily. I know I can trust them to be there for me when I need them. Without their friendship, my work would be much harder, if not impossible.

I recently spent five days away from home with a circle of eleven other pastors. Every autumn for many years I’ve had the opportunity to do this. The official purpose of our gathering is to spend time together in intensive study, encouraging one another as preachers. But just as importantly, we meet as friends.

We feel free to share all sorts of things that we wouldn’t talk about in any and every gathering. We talk about things that are happening in our churches. We talk about our families. We talk about things that are happening on the wider scene. We talk about problem situations that we need to sort out.

And we feel free to talk about more personal things – our own doubts and fears and backslidings and inconsistencies. Often I’ll find myself, late into the night, listening to one of my friends talking about his personal dilemmas, or sharing my own. And our talking turns into prayer. We pray together about all the things we’re talking about together.

I should emphasise that we don’t just talk. We laugh. We tease one another. We go off for walks together. You’ll find two or three men doing a crossword together. Or a larger group kicking around a football together.

Am I equally close to all the men in that circle? No, of course not. I’ve known some of the men in the circle for many years. Others I know far less well. And inevitably, I relate more easily to some than to others. I have more in common with some than others in terms of background, personality, and interests. But I think of them all as friends.

And of course I have many good friends who aren’t either in the church here or in that particular group. Alec was one of them. But there are many others.

In my experience, no two friendships are the same. I look to one friend for one thing. I look to another for something different. I open up to one about some issues. I talk to another about other concerns. But every friendship is precious. Every one is a gift from God.

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