Monday, May 4, 2009

The Gospel and Friendship

Of all the experiences Heather and I had during our time in Canada last week, perhaps nothing has stuck with me as much as a sense of wonder at the amazing implications that the gospel has for friendships. I first began exchanging emails with Dan Collison, pastor of our sister chuch, The Sanctuary Pickering, back at the end of last year. He and his wife, Denise, visited us in February, and we just spent time with them in Toronto. Between both visits, we have spent perhaps a total of 4 days together, but likely a little less. Heather and I can now say that we view them as close friends, and we feel like we've known them forever. How is that possible in only 96 hours?

It's possible because we share Jesus Christ in common. In him, there is a bond that runs deeper than any other, including blood. I realized this on an even deeper level when we worshipped with their church last Sunday. Here we were, in a room with 40-50 people we'd never met, and there was an instant connection, an immediate sense of community. We didn't share nationality in common, we didn't always share personal histories in common, but we all shared the joy of having our sins covered by the sacrifice of Christ, and that was more than enough. It was never difficult to strike up a conversation with people, and in just a couple hours we had meaningful conversations that most people would never dream of having with people they'd just met. For us, though, there was a sense that we were on the same wavelength, that we held the same values, passions, and joys. There is truly no bond like the gospel.

We're really looking forward to going back this summer with our team from Hazelwood. We've got friends that we look forward to seeing again, and we've got a fresh appreciation for the gift that our church family is to us. As you read this, think about the people at your church. You may share more things in common with some than others, but at the end of the day you share something of supreme significance with all of them, something that shatters all other petty differences. You share Christ. With him as our foundation, healthy, deep, and meaningful relationships are never far away.

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