Familiar and Outrageous Friendship

    by Byron Peters, Pastor

So what marks Christian friendship? Lots of laughs and heart-to-hearts to be sure. But truly Christ-centered friendships are perfectly comfortable with the mundane, while at the same time utterly committed to the “outrageous” truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all things. Familiar and outrageous.

Today Ruby Bea and I attended the funeral of a dear friend, Beverly Headen. Beverly was the Client Services Director at PSS (Pregnancy Support Services). Though God only had her there for a couple of years, in that time she became a dear friend and was, for us as for so many, a true “counselor” who lived an outrageously Christ-centered life.

The New Testament book of Third John gives us a peek into one of these wonderful Christian friendships. The Apostle John writes his friend Gaius, and we get to read over his shoulder:

The elder,

To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

See the warm, simple familiarity? “My dear friend, whom I love in the truth.” John and Gaius were very close. They were dear friends. Note well that warm greeting and honest prayer for the simple enjoyment of good health. Then that wonderful blanket prayer, “…and that all may go well with you.”

But it wasn’t just warm and familiar. John and Gaius were also engaged in an outrageously eternal work. Gaius encouraged John in the truth of God’s Word. He was also a very hospitable person. When the missionaries came through town, he willingly invited them into his home and cared for their needs. Gaius stands in sharp contrast to Diotrephes, an arrogant bully that John promises to deal with later.

But it’s the last part of that prayer that grabbed my attention this morning. The Apostle John wraps the embrace of his prayer directly around Gaius’ soul. “I prayeven as your soul is getting along well.”

What does a soul that is getting along well look like? A true friend sees it in you and prays it into you. A getting-along-well soul is both familiar with Jesus and outrageously committed to the obedience of faith. It talks with him all day long, soaks long in his Word, and will take a costly stand no matter how much the world hates you for it.

Beverly demonstrated all of this. After years in a corporate environment, God called her into ministry. She sold the dream house and car, got a Masters in Biblical Counseling, and started counseling young women whom the world had cast off.

Ruby Bea would often hear Beverly say, “Only God can do these things.” Beverly knew that, because she knew Jesus, because she knew his word, and then stepped out in radical obedience. And it’s those “outrageous” friends that are the most precious, isn’t it? Like dear Gaius. A man who loved the truth, loved the Apostle, and opened his heart and home to others.

May God make us familiar and outrageous friends.