Day 12: We’re Commissioned To Reach Out Together – By Building Friendships

Point to Ponder: Love the people of the world, not the values of the world.
Verse to Remember: “Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.” — Romans 12:16 (CEV)
Question to Consider: Do you have any meaningful relationships with nonbeleivers?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 12 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.

I had to laugh when I read today’s verse about feeling “smarter.” When I was a grad student at Caltech in the early 90’s, I remember how some of the other students at our church were intimidated by our intellect; the reality, though, is that we were just as intimidated by the ‘beautiful people’ of Southern California! True, at least part of the problem was that, in one sense, we were too ‘smart’ for ‘ordinary people’ — that is, too much wrapped up in our intelligence, and an intellectual way of relating to (other) human beings. However, I now freely confess such intellectualism to be a vice, not a virtue. Worse, I recognize it as a sign of ‘fleeing from humanity’.

To be sure, some of our peers were fleeing their intellectual selves as much as we fled our emotional selves; the goal, after all, is to become whole human beings, not merely to fit in. But, accepting people different than you as friends is a great way to allow them to “complete you” — i.e., grow in areas of humanity that had been neglected.

Which, for me, is the main lesson from today’s devotional: being intentional about building friendships, as a way to both grow personally as well as to grow God’s Kingdom. Again, I am very impressed by Rick’s dual emphasis on the theoretical and the practical. While the theory of ‘friendship evangelism” is old hat to me, his practical suggestions are still worth meditating on:

* Courtesy (pleasantness)
* Frequency (spending time)
* Authenticity (loving from our center, not our surface)

Prayer: God, I confess that I have a hard times building friendships with anybody, especially those that don’t share my intellectual “bent.” Help me to unbend, and grant me the confidence to interact with other people as a whole human being. Fill me with genuine love for others, that I may diligently seek out common ground for constructing the house of friendship. Please, don’t let me chicken out when things get scary, foreign, or difficult, but help me to press on and in, to help build the Kingdom you desire. In Jesus name, Amen.