Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Value of Great Friendships

“‘But that will leave no place for us!’ cried Pippin in dismay. ‘We don’t want to be left behind. We want to go with Frodo.’
“‘That is because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead,’ said Elrond.
“‘Neither does Frodo,’ said Gandalf, unexpectedly supporting Pippin. ‘Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. Even if you chose for us an elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in him.’”
~ The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Friendship. It is one of the themes which run through The Lord of the Rings and I believe is one of the reasons so many people are drawn to the story. We long to have people in our lives that we can count on through thick and thin. People who we know will be there for us no matter what happens. People who we can love, help, and live life together.
What this world has in store for us is hardship and pain. If we received right now the detail accounting of the rest of our lives every one of us would be afraid to proceed. Our future holds the death of loved ones, the slow decay of our bodies, money problems, relationship problems, and other various struggles. The future is a scary place.
We can come up with answers and solutions for all these various problems on this side, before we go through them, but they mean little once we get there. C. S. Lewis wrote the Problem of Pain giving a logical and thought out answer to why a loving God allows pain and suffering. Those answers provided little comfort as he dealt with his wife’s death and authored A Grief Observed.
What will get us through the through the tough times ahead is not wisdom, but relationships. In the dark times in our lives what we need most are not answers to questions but companionship. We need people willing to come alongside of us and offer a word of encouragement, provide for some need, and to show us they love us even when we feel all alone.
This type of companionship is to found in the church:
Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. ~ Romans 13:8; NLT
Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him. ~ Ephesians 5:1-2; NLT
Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25; NLT
We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. But if anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help—how can God’s love be in that person? ~ 1 John 3:16-17; NLT
God wants us to love each other. That is how we are going to make it through life.
God could have revealed to us all the secrets of the universe and have given us all the wisdom we need to answer any question that came up. Instead God provide us with the Church. Great wisdom or knowledge will not get us through this life, but great friendships will. The first step to having great friendships is becoming a great friend. That is what loving people is all about.

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