In our last post, we talked about the key ingredients to friendship. Friendship, in a lot of ways, is like a cake. Cakes come in all sorts of sizes, flavors, and colors. But, at the end of the day, it is easy to tell a cake from a pie or an ice-cream. The resulting cake will be different than other cakes depending on your tastes, preference and/or type of celebration, but it’s still a cake. There are some things that are just universally true of all cakes. If you don’t have flour, you don’t have a cake. If you don’t have icing, you really don’t have a cake. The same is true of friendship. In this post, we are going to talk about one of the most basic ingredients that are required in a true friendship—fellowship. This word can also be referred to as “quantity time” because it basically means that you just have to spend time with someone in order to have a real friendship.
As in our analogy of the cake, there may be some friendships that have a lot of fellowship while, on the other hand, there may be some friendships where there is not as much fellowship (quantity time) as other relationships, but a friendship still exists. The point is still the same. The main ingredient (fellowship/time) is like the flour that the cake needs to rise – fellowship is the ‘ingredient’ that friendship is built on. Without spending a certain amount of time together you can’t have a friendship. You need to spend time with your friends and if you don’t that relationship will break down.
Christ, the Model
We see an example of this in the Bible. Jesus, when He was pouring into the 12 apostles, He also cultivated a friendship with these men. Here is what He says in John 15:15 in the Upper Room right before His crucifixion.
“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus calls these men His friends. Over the last three years, He had spent an incredible amount of time with them. They lived life together. And Christ, even though He is Lord of all the universe, calls them friends.
Challenges to Fellowship
However, in the day in which we live, the idea that we could spend so much time with someone is probably not going to happen. Not only are we not going to spend literally every waking moment with our friends, the reality is that we are going to struggle to find time in our schedules to actually get together. Between all the various things that pull at our busy lives, finding time to be with our friends can be hard and challenging. But make no mistake, there is no substitute for just spending time with someone.
Priorities Must Drive Decision Making
So, then what are you going to do? In order to ensure that you have friends in your life, and that you have fellowship with them, you are going to have to make priority-based decisions around this to nurture your friendships. If you leave decision making up to the moment, if you live by your feelings and situations, then something will get pushed out. Normally, the thing that is making the most ‘noise’ in our life will ultimately get the most attention. So, if your work is pushing to have more and more of your time, then that is what you are going to give your time to. If your pursuit of pleasure is what makes the noise, then that is what you are going to give time to.
If you want to have gospel-centered friendship that is meaningful, then you are going to have to make decisions with fellowship priorities in mind. You have to look at your calendar and plan when you are going to have fellowship time, and with whom. You may have friends who naturally gravitate more toward being the fellowship type, and you should be thankful to have friends with this natural gift or ability to fellowship. Maybe that’s you? But, as a person who struggles with this, and who wants to make the right decisions for meaningful friendships, it requires careful planning and thought.
This week, take some time to think about who in your life you need to spend time with on a regular basis (‘regular’ can mean daily, weekly, monthly, it can mean a lot of things. In this context, we can interchange it with ‘consistent’). Look at your calendar. What is taking up your time? Is it just things that make you happy or is it you purposefully investing and spending time with others? Spend time thinking about what a good balance of fellowship looks like against the other priorities in your life. Ask others who seem to have figured it out what their process is for making friendships work, and try to take examples from them. Then, of course, make sure that you actually initiate. You can’t just rely on someone else to start the process of building a friendship. You, first, must be the friend that you want them to be to you.