[Continuing from “Who Are My Friends?”] Two months ago, we answered the question, “Who are our friends?” Scripture teaches that true friends are those who share the same spiritual likes and dislikes, and those who help us spiritually; we find that such friends can be believers only.
But a second question arises. Where can we find believers? Or, to put the question differently, where can we find such friends?
Therefore, we must answer our title this way: Our friends are in the church.
Scripture plainly teaches this truth. In his prayer in Psalm 122, the Psalmist sets his mind on his “companions,” whom he calls “the house of the LORD,” the church (vv. 7-8). In Psalm 16, the Psalmist speaks of his delight in the saints (v. 3). According to the Psalmist, these saints do not worship other gods; in other words, these saints are members of the church that worships Jehovah.
Consider, also, Amos 3:3 again. Two cannot walk together—befriend each other—unless they are agreed. Where can such agreement (or, unity) be found? Thinking further, we find that this agreement (unity) can be found only in the church, the one, united, body of Christ (see Ephesians 4:1-6).
The answer to our title is rather simple. But the article does not end there. I want now to focus on applying this answer. In other words, knowing our true friends come from the church, what must we do?
Knowing our friends are found in the church, we must spend our time with the church. For our church, we have many activities where we may spend our time with fellow believers. There is time in between our Sunday services for fellowship. Saturday afternoons are packed with activities to study and discuss the Scriptures. Furthermore, scattered through the week are casual activities such as meals, as well as an hour or two of exercise (volleyball, basketball, soccer, etc.).
These activities give us time to forge our friendships with fellow believers. They give us time to find out what our friends like or dislike. (Remember, part of friendship is sharing the same likes and dislikes.) We may find out through casual conversations—asking what he likes and dislikes in the classroom, at home, and in the youth group. We may
discover more by silent observation. Friends do not always tell us with words what they like and dislike. Some of those likes and dislikes we figure out by watching how our friends react to various things.
These activities also give opportunity to build a trust that opens the way for us to help our friends, and vice versa. You would not be comfortable when a stranger suddenly comes to you and offers you help. You need time to know what kind of a person that stranger is before you can trust that he can really help you, and that he is out there to help you. Likewise, we need time to know our friends—and for them to know us. As we know each other better, we will know that they are willing and able to help us when we need help.
Time must be spent in the church to establish strong friendships among believers.
But, my more urgent point is that time now must be spent in the church.
Already, in your life as teenage students, you do not get much time to spend with your friends. School takes up most of your weekdays. Sometimes, even a part of your Saturdays is taken up by the school. What is left, minimally, is a portion of Saturday and Sunday. The hours you spend with fellow believers on those two days are easily countable: At most eight on Saturday (if you stay for dinner after the activities), and six on Sunday.
Moreover, you will get less time in the future. Life in junior colleges, polytechnics, and universities will eat up more of your time left outside of school. Guys, our two years in NS will eat away more time, if not our strength to join the fellowship of the church when there is time. Ultimately, for guys and girls, we all will begin to work in the world. Our jobs will take a heavy toll on our time and energy for our friendships.
It is unrealistic, then, to think that we will have more time to establish and build true godly friendships later on in life.
The time to establish and build friendships is now. The time to find ourselves in the activities and bustle of the church is now. We may not say, “There will be time later.” That is not true; that will never be true. The time is right now.
The way to true friendships in the church is not easy.
I would not be wrong to assume that some of you have faced times when you say to yourselves, “I just don’t have the strength to be in the fellowship of the saints.” Or, “I just can’t find the time.” We want to have strong friendships with our fellow believers; but we find ourselves unable to forge such friendships.
There is difficulty. What can we do to overcome this difficulty?
Among the many things we can do, three stand out.
First, pray. Our hearts must desire what is right—true friendships with believers in the church. When we desire what is right and bring that desire to the Lord, the Lord will strengthen us to establish and maintain the friendships we seek.
Telling our parents our difficulties is a second thing we should do. The Lord gives us parents to guide us through our youth. However, guidance cannot be given if we choose to be silent towards our parents about our struggles. The Lord has ordained that parents guide us when we share our struggles with them. When we do so, our parents would know the best advice to give us.
Yes, I, a child in a Covenant home for nineteen years, grant it that parents do not always give the best advice. Yet, the source of help God sets for us in the home is our parents. Do not hesitate to share your struggles with your parents.
A third thing we can do is to make time. Find ways to get your school- work done to free up time for the activities of the church. To do so may mean spending less time on Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, or video games; it may mean spending part of your recess to get school-work done. Do not misunderstand me: My point here is not to tell you how you should make time. My point is that all of us must find our own ways to free up our time for the church. To share a little from my side, I gave up watching videos on basketball tactics and keeping up with the latest basketball news on the Internet. For me, giving up these things spared me more time in the week to get myself ready for Bible studies and workshops.
Again, these are not the only three ways to fight the struggle. Nonetheless, they are a start.
Above all, do not be discouraged to find yourself struggling. To spend our time in the church, to find true friends in the church, is one of the difficulties the Lord has given us in Singapore.
And, I say, a difficulty and struggle unique to us. We do not have our own school yet. If we were to have our own school, we would spend our weekdays among fellow believers—not just hours, but days! Indeed, an abundance of time to forge strong friendships with each other! But, this school is yet to be.
What then? Is it worth the struggle now to forge such friendships?
And, there is still that question about unbelievers.
More to come, DV.
Written by: Lim Yang Zhi | Issue 39