Weekly Thought – August 30, 2022
Fred believed in the development of personal, internal devotion. However, one of the key elements was the importance of Christian fellowship. During his lifetime he thoroughly enjoyed experiences at the Laymen’s Leadership Institute, Fellowship at Barkley, church retreats nationwide, and of course the Spiritual Emphasis Weeks on Baptist campuses in the 1950s and 60s.
Strength Through Fellowship
Our devotional life cannot be just an individual matter between us and God. It must be worked out and built up in the community of fellow believers. We have to come down from the Mount of Transfiguration into the valley where the sinews and muscles of our faith are developed.
When we pray “our Father” we are talking family, community, and body. On my wall I have a beautiful little sketch done with one line incorporating the words, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of God.” We are to share.
As Christians, we can become fully formed friends. I, like you, have a number of non-believing friends. We can certainly share common experiences and great memories, but nothing like I can with my dear friend Jim. When he calls he almost always begins, “Hey, brother.” We have a depth of relation that goes past ordinary acquaintances.
A good friend is struggling with a new son-in-law who is adjusting poorly to marriage and their family. The young man has come several times to hear me speak and has watched the friendship between his father-in-law and me. He asked if he could have lunch. Usually I tell people to meet me at Cindi’s at 6am but because he was coming from out of state I agreed. We talked and then he went back home. He told his father-in-law, “You and Fred are friends. Never in my life have I ever had a friend like that.” He is missing the foundational piece of the friendship – faith in Christ.
Unfortunately, many men are devoid of full friendships. They have golfing buddies, college friends, and business associates, but to find someone with a deeper connection is rare. When I spend weekends on men’s retreats one of the goals is to open up the conversation about Christian devotion and the need for genuine fellowship. The activities, daily contacts, and programs are designed to open up opportunities to begin.
As we serve one another and accept service from one another we grow in devotion. This isn’t always easy – our ego doesn’t handle receiving help and service well.
These are financially hard times (note: 1980s) in Dallas. Those with great losses are suffering emotionally. They cannot believe they are accepted without their financial resources. These are the times for us to share the burdens of others, and also to learn to receive the care of the body. That is fellowship – and the path to true devotion.
This week think about: 1) How deep are my friendships within the body of Christ? 2) What can I do to stretch myself spiritually? 3) Who is a true fully-formed friend in my life?
Words of Wisdom: “We have to come down from the Mount of Transfiguration into the valley where the sinews and muscles of our faith are developed.”
Wisdom from the Word: “I was glad about the arrival of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus because they have supplied the fellowship with you that I lacked.” (1 Corinthians 15:16 NET Bible)