May 23, 2003

Face to Face

Category: Theology - Pastoral :: Permalink

I’ve recently started reading Steve Wilkins’ Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality. The first chapter is full of great stuff about the necessity of friendship.

The Bible teaches us that “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, and rages against all wise judgment” (Prov. 18:1). But God puts the solitary in families (Ps. 68:6). As Wilkins writes, “God, in His mercy, does not save us in isolation from other people but rather in community with other people” (p. 11).

The book opens with this analysis of our culture and its crying need for true friendship:

The clearest evidence that we live in a degenerate culture is the fact that we practice so little genuine biblical friendship; even the word friend itself has become a hollow term, drained of its biblical content and weight. This is precisely what we should expect as the influence of God’s covenant wanes in a culture —┬áthe culture gradually becomes more brutal and more barbaric, and true friends become hard to find. In the fourth chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon laments for the oppressed, because they cry out and there is no one to comfort them. Here is a lonely barbarity, without comfort or companion. Contemporary culture is like those oppressed people, a slave to sin and with no friend to turn to. Society and community begin to die out, because sin isolates men from one another. Sin by its very nature is a proud, selfish insistence on going one’s own way, and as such it cuts a man off from everyone around him. Whenever a society tolerates sin and covenant-breaking, loneliness becomes a common problem within that society, and its citizens begin to think of true friends as a luxury, not as a necessity (p. 9).

As I read that opening paragraph, I recalled what Dick pointed out recently. Dick runs a concrete company, and he’s noticed that, while his Christian workers generally eat together, the unbelievers often prefer to sit in their individual trucks all by themselves.

It figures. We were created in the image and likeness of the Triune God, who is Himself a society and the source of all society, all unity, and all diversity. But the farther we distance ourselves from Him, the less of His likeness we reflect. There’s no true society in sin. Sin isolates, and isolation is death.

Posted by John Barach @ 11:24 pm | Discuss (0)

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