How to Be a Biblical Spiritual Friend-Part Three: God’s Art Gallery of Spiritual Friendship
Author: Bob Kellmen
In the midst of spiritual crisis, we need spiritual connection—spiritual friendship. But just what does spiritual friendship look like? Would we know it if we saw it?
Allow me to guide you on a tour through God’s art gallery filled with walls lined with pictures of spiritual friendship. View pictures of spiritual friendship as:
Art Gallery Portrait One: Spiritual Friendship as Sacred Companionship
Spiritual friends are sacred companions. I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons that we fail to experience Christ’s power is because we fail to take our friendships seriously enough.
Our close friendships are sacred. They’re holy and sanctified, committed and consecrated, serious and mysterious, beautiful and blessed by God.
A sacred companion dares to enter the holy place of your soul—the messy rooms filled with fear, darkness, chaos, and confusion. She also thrills to enter the redeemed core of your soul—that central room touched by God, yet rarely tapped into or stirred up by the mere acquaintance. A sacred companion is someone who cares about you so much and knows you so well, that he helps you to taste God’s goodness and grace where others only see suffering and sin.
Even more, your sacred companions courageously encourage you to enter the Holy of Holies of your soul—to live face-to-face with God in intimate integrity. No wonder the author of Hebrews directly links bold entrance into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19-23) with the bold encouragement shared between brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Art Gallery Portrait Two: Spiritual Friendship as Voice and Touch
Spiritual friends connect voice and touch. In the prologue to Leadership Jazz, Max DePree writes about his granddaughter, Zoe:
Zoe was born prematurely and weighed one pound, seven ounces, so small that my wedding ring could slide up her arm to her shoulder. The neonatologist who first examined her told us that she had a 5 to 10 percent chance of living three days. When Esther and I saw Zoe in her isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit, she had two IVs in her navel, one in her foot, a monitor on each side of her chest, and a respirator tube and a feeding tube in her mouth. To complicate matters, Zoe’s biological father had jumped ship the month before Zoe was born. Realizing this, a wise and caring nurse named Ruth gave me my instructions. “For the next several months, at least, you’re the surrogate father. I want you to come to the hospital every day to visit Zoe, and when you come, I want you to rub her body and her legs and arms with the tip of your finger. While you’re caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch” (DePree, Leadership Jazz, p. 1).
DePree concludes with these insightful words. “God knew that we also needed both His voice and His touch. So He gave us His Word (His Son) and also His Body (the Church). God’s voice and touch say, ‘I love you’” (Depree, Leadership Jazz, p. 2).
God’s Word is his voice speaking to you. God’s people are his touch speaking his Word into your soul.
Art Gallery Portrait Three: Spiritual Friendship as Christ Incarnated in Christians
Spiritual friendship is Christ incarnated in Christians. Dave is one of my best friends from seminary days. One night when his daughter, Kristen, was about five or six, she awoke from a bad dream. Hearing her cries and whimperings, Dave got out of bed to comfort Kristen. He hugged her, and she was still. Then they prayed together. His prayer was meant to reassure her that Jesus was watching over her. But when Dave finished praying and was about to leave Kristen, her whimperings began again. Dave reminded her again, “You know that Jesus is watching over you.”
Kristen responded, “I know, but I need Jesus with some skin on him!”
That’s what God calls us to be for each other: Jesus with skin on him. Spiritual friends give each other small tastes, samples now, of how good and gracious Jesus is.
Spiritual friendship is a human relational bridge that reconnects our soul to God. We are more than professionals, or practitioners, or pastors; we are fellow pilgrims. We journey with one another through the valley of the shadow of death. Then we lay down our lives for each other, forming a bridge from the valley of death to the oasis of hope—the oasis of God’s goodness and grace.
Join the Conversation
Which portrait of spiritual friendship resonates with you?
Note: Developed from Spiritual Friends (http://www.rpmministries.org/writing/spiritual-friends/). Spiritual Friends is part of the ABC’s biblical counseling curriculum and the ABC’s certification process. In Spiritual Friends you learn how to develop twenty-two biblical counseling relational competencies.
Posted on November 30, 2011