Spiritual Friendship: Knowing and Being Known

One of the goals of Christ Presbyterian Church’s vision is that those who call this church home will be able to say they have at least five close friends in this community. We want our friendships to move beyond the superficial to the real—beyond merely touching base to really knowing others and being known by others.

Friendship is such a simple concept in many ways—something little children navigate on the playground. But it can also feel risky. For many, we think what we stand to lose outweighs what we stand to gain if we were to be truly known. This is dangerous territory.

“The less we feel a need for friends, the less like God we are. And yet, so many of us choose to be alone by withholding our dreams, ideas, opinions, feelings, and struggles from others. Friendship is in crisis. We are more connected than ever, and yet we are also more isolated than ever. Even if surrounded by people, we can still feel the ache of loneliness. What we need to counter this is a pathway that leads us into true friendship.” – Scott Sauls

But how? Some of the necessary elements of true friendship include:

Transparency: True friends want to be known. They do not hide from each other. Instead, they trust one another enough to grant access into their inner worlds. They seek to know others and to be known.

Celebrating Differences: True friends celebrate the differences that exist between them.

“David the shepherd and Jonathan the prince were the best of friends, despite their differences in social status. Peter and John shared close friendships with Jesus and each other, even though Peter was very intense and confrontational and John, more sanguine and kind. Matthew and Simon lived together as disciples of Jesus, though their political differences were vast.” – Scott Sauls

Without transparency, it will be difficult to know and celebrate each other’s differences. But with transparency, our differences become assets to our communities of friends. We each bring perspectives, experiences, and wisdom the others need.

Love: Friendship is marked by love. This is not for the faint of heart. Friendship calls for apologies and forgiveness, for patience with each others’ weaknesses and sins, for sharing our burdens together. Love also calls for encouragement and building each other up.

“Jesus is our picture of this true Friend. Where other friends may let us down, Jesus cannot. He is our Friend who sticks closer than a brother, the Friend above all friends. When we are in friendship with Jesus, it frees us to reach out to others in friendship.” – Scott Sauls

There is no such thing as true friendship without risking being known. Likewise, genuine friendship means we must engage with a desire to know someone else. The Gospel calls us to live with a desire to draw closer to one another and to our Lord.

Despite the apparent risks, friendship is one of the greatest gifts the Lord gives to his people—insurance that we will not walk through this life alone. When we pursue the depth of true spiritual friendship, we imitate what Christ has already done for us. Let these words from Frederick Buechner encourage you as you risk knowing and being known:

"The grace of God means something like: ‘Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.’"


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