“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17
I am so blessed to have “ordinary” friends. There’s not a billionaire among them. No royalty either. No rock singers, sports celebrities, or movie stars. No monuments anywhere dedicated to them. They’re simply people who have befriended me over the years in our everyday walk of life. Ordinary people.
But, oh, what a blessing that most of them are Christians! They are loving, strong, wise, compassionate, and just plain fun. We share a special bond in the body of Jesus Christ. They build me up and sharpen me as well.
I’ve just had the extraordinary privilege of hanging out with fellow Christian writers this past weekend. We enjoyed a (socially-distanced) retreat in the North Carolina mountains to write, chat, take woodsy walks, and hear an excellent message about how God has created our unique personalities. I am so humbled and enriched to have spent time in their presence. I am delighted to call them friends, even though I see them only once a year.
Sure, they’re gifted—writers, bloggers, authors, reviewers, editors, teachers. They work hard, too. But there’s not a snob among them. It’s so refreshing to share a passion for writing with friends who are even more passionate about serving our Lord. We are comrades because we can be honest with each other, reveal heart-deep emotions with each other, learn from each other, and laugh at each other’s silliness…without worrying about what we look like or how important we are!
Do you have ordinary friends like these? Have you found friends who love Jesus? If so, count yourself privileged. Yet, in reality, according to C.S. Lewis, there are no ordinary people:
“You have never talked to a mere mortal,” Lewis said. “…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love…. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”*
I think that’s the secret. Christ is “hidden” within my beloved friends, so that I see His countenance shining through them. The more we dwell in the harmony of His Holy Spirit, the more of Him we get to serve and enjoy together. When I have spent time with my godly friends–despite our flaws, foibles, and failings–I feel that I have had a royal encounter with the living God. That’s why no one who knows Jesus could ever be called “ordinary.”
Friends and loved ones, count yourself privileged if you have close Christian friends. Cherish and cultivate those relationships, especially in these restrictive times, so that you can support, encourage, and yes, sharpen each other.
May you be blessed today as that kind of friend with others!
Jesus, our Brother and our very Best Friend—thank You for giving us friendships here with brothers and sisters in faith who reflect Your grace and mercy to us. And even though miles or pandemic may separate us from our friends, grant us the incentive and avenues to keep up our ties here so that we may serve, worship, and enjoy You together. In Your name, Amen.
*Quoted from “The Weight of Glory,” preached originally in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, on June 8, 1942. Published in A Year with C. S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works, edited by Patricia S. Klein, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003.
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