Jesus did not work with individuals per se, that is, He always worked with individuals in the context of a community or within a network of friendships. When an individual was isolated from other people of faith Jesus always sought to bring them back into relationship with God’s people. We need each other not only to worship in the corporate sense or to serve together to do good things in the world, but we need each other for Christian, or as I will call it here, spiritual friendship.
Growth into true humanness, which is another way of referring to spiritual development, is largely impossible without spiritual friendships. Friendships, even in the general sense, are one of the great gifts of life. The absence of meaningful friendships is a problem that many people suffer from everyday.
Spiritual friendship includes all of the components of a regular friendship with the additional element of a shared commitment to Jesus Christ. All Christians should have at least two or three believing friends. These spiritual friendships are incredibly important because these friendships will able to support and encourage your faith as it relates to every aspect of your life: family, work, relationships, hobbies, everything. Strong spiritual friendships will hold up your faith when it is weak, will challenge you to think about God in new ways, and will speak truth into your life when you’re getting out of line.
Some people have formal spiritual friends (click here) others simply break new ground in an existing friendship by including Christ in the conversation. Spiritual friendship has been written about extensively throughout Christian history (see here for one perspective), but finds its origins in the concept that as followers of Jesus Christ we are family to one another, brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you don’t have any spiritual friends start looking for some, take your time, go slowly, and ask God to guide you to the right people.
In what ways have your spiritual friends sustained and challenged your faith?