Over the last several months, our men’s group at The Valley Church has been meeting and reviewing “The Apostles’ Creed,” using the book developed by Matt Chandler.
WHO ARE MY FRIENDS?
Recently we got down to the line “communion of the saints.” A great discussion followed on what this means. One of the comments made was, “We (men) know a lot of people but none of them well.”
I have been mulling this over for a while and realize this statement fits me to a tee. I have very few friends and no close friends. When I talk to other men about this, I realize they are they same way. They have a few friends, but none that are close friends.
In studying Scripture, we can see how important friendships are. One of the first displayed is the friendship between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18-23). Another is Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1-3). These friendships were close and show how friends should support each other. However, Jesus is a perfect role model for us. We see he had over 500 friends, but then he also had a smaller group of 72 and a closer group of 12 but an intimate group of 3. The 3 are who he went into real depth with.
My thoughts have also gone to a couple of books I’ve been reading by Robert Wolgemuth, Gun Lap: Staying in the Race with Purpose and Finish Line. This same point has come up numerous times in those books as well. We need to develop friendships, both casual and intimate.
I know I can be thick-headed at times, but it seems God is trying to make a point. As I age, I need to develop some friendships outside my immediate family. The older I get (and I think many men are the same way), I tend to pull back and think that nobody wants to hear my views or my views are no longer relevant or that I’m just that crabby old guy. But God doesn’t agree! He wants me to be involved (and not in a crabby old guy type of way).
Building these relationships isn’t just for older men but is something men of all ages should be doing. As we work to build these relationships, we need to be looking for men that are more spiritually mature than us. This allows us to continue to learn. We also need to be looking for men that are younger (both age-wise and spiritually) in whom we can invest for the future.
RUNNING THE RACE
I used to be a runner (5k and 10k) before age crept up on me and created some back issues. I always loved rounding that final bend and seeing the finish line. At that point I found a little bit of a second wind that enabled me to pick up my pace and push through to the end. Sadly, in life, many of us don’t look for the finish line. We just quit.
In Gun Lap, Wolgemuth makes a statement “… the account of older, lonely men taking their lives is a familiar, tragic refrain. Statistically, men my age lead the pack.” Mr. Wolgemuth is in his 70s. I’m in my mid-60s. I’m getting close to the age of this statistic.
As a man, I need men around me to keep me accountable for my thoughts and actions. When I’m alone, I tend to fail. Relationships with other Christian men allow me to help them in their spiritual growth and in turn allow them to challenge me in mine.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Notice how it talks about building and encouraging one another as the Day draws near. The Day talked about is the return of Christ. For some of us this will be our finish line. For others it will come sooner. (But hey, I have no problem with Christ coming back before my day!)
HEADING TO THE FINISH
I realize I’m in the gun lap of my life. I have 3 children (and their spouses), plus 12 grandchildren. I still have a lot to invest in them. I want them to remember me as dad, grandpa, one who loved them. But more than anything, I want them to remember me as one who always pointed them to Christ.
As I head toward my finish line, I strive to be as Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7 –
Will anyone join me?