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Allison Althoff
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Natalie Lederhouse

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January 10, 2013

Friendships Are the Heart and Soul of God's Church

A circle of friends—with Christ at the center—is one of God's desires for his church.

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I love carrot cake and hate small talk. Cheri craves ice cream and works out religiously. Friends for more than 20 years, we're two Starbucks-drinking, Levi-wearing, munchkin-rearing friends.

But when Cheri and I mention we're on a "spiritual journey" together, people often give us blank stares. We suspect they're imagining us at Bible studies and weekend retreats. Some of those images ring true, but faith-filled friendship is more about sharing the rough-and-tumble of ordinary life than practicing spiritual piety.

Jesus and his 12 stinky fisherman friends spent more time at the beach than at a synagogue. Their hillside picnics probably felt more like church than most days at the temple. Every social gathering was a feast of friendship and faith. Even today, a circle of friends—with Christ at the center—is one of God's desires for his church. He continually sows seeds of community, whether we're scheduling play dates or coffee breaks, joining book clubs or Bible studies. Yet too often we rely more on our frenetic pace than on faith-inspiring friendships to serve our souls.

In their book Friends for the Journey, Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw describe friendship as a gift "given to you—holy, happy, tough, tender, wild, wacky, a sacrifice, and a sacrament."

Finding soul sisters means becoming more intentional about spiritual friendship. When we walk in compassion and grace with our girlfriends, we're experiencing spiritual friendship. It's nothing we have to "add in" or "put on." It comes with the territory of loving deeply. And it turns things as simple as tears into prayers. In this way, the apostle Paul's admonition to pray without ceasing is transformed into the everyday details of our relational realities.

Friends can celebrate spiritual realities in ordinary moments. Whether it's with a fiesta for 50 or a casual luncheon for 2, time with your friends is sacred. Matthew 18:20 says, "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." God invites you to share in a feast of friendship and faith even in the mundane. Marking moments as holy and meaningful opens your heart to God and each other.

Excerpted from TCW article "Soul Sisters" by Sally Miller and Cheri Mueller

Related Tags: Friendship; Holy Spirit; Learning; Prayer; Spiritual Friendships

Comments

Friendships have gone down in history. We read in "21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Jesus’ earthly cup of bitterness was drained to the dregs. He had only a few unpretentious friends stay by his side. The religion of these spiritual friends was something more than a name. It was so vital that it allowed them to understand and share the glory of eternal life."

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