November 16, 2014
Be the Friend
There is nothing more life-giving than friendship, and there’s no more horrible pain than loneliness. All kinds of studies reveal that people who have fewer friends die more readily of disease and heart attacks. Why do we need friendship and how do we get that need met?
“Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives.” Henri Nouwen
“God’s grace quickly frustrates all such dreams. A great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves, is bound to overwhelm us as surely as God desires to lead us to an understanding of genuine Christian community… Those who love their dream of Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Bonhoeffer spoke of the necessity of being disillusioned by the reality of good and bad in community. When was a time you were disillusioned in a relationship? How did you respond?
- What are the barriers to a greater sense of community and intimacy in our society? For you personally?
“Community is the place where our limitations, our fears, and our egoism are revealed to us” - Jean Vanier
- How does the description of the Trinity as a community of humility, servanthood, and delight differ from your previous ideas about God? How does it affect your life to think that you have been invited into this fellowship?
- There is a world of difference between being friendly to someone because they’re useful to you and being someone’s friend. Discuss.
- Psychologist Harry Stack Sullivan said, “It takes people to make people sick, and it takes people to make people well.” In other words despite all of our flaws, more than anything else, God uses people to heal people. Discuss.
- Read John 15v9-17. A true friend always lets you in and never lets you down. How did Jesus fulfill these two requirements? How does His friendship allow us to be true friends to others?
- There is no pain like the pain of loneliness. What was a lonely era in your life? What was a time when you had a great sense of belonging? In both cases, what factors contributed to this?
- John Ortberg writes, “the requirement for true intimacy is chunks of unhurried time.” How does your schedule help or hinder you from entering into deeper community? How can you realistically pursue greater relational depth this week?
- God’s ultimate desire for the world is shalom - “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment and delight.” What is one step you could take to contribute to shalom in your little world?
- Think of someone at work or your neighborhood who is difficult, lonely, or weird. How could you begin to deepen the relationship?
Gracious God, thank you for the diversity of human beings that surround me on every side. In the ideas, in the hopes, in the dreams, and in the struggles of those who share this earthly life, let me find that through a community of human beings I am made fuller and more alive. Let the fullness given by community give me the courage to offer my own unique self with humility to the lives of others. As we all share in the life that you have so graciously given us, may we be the lights of your love to one another. Amen.