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Time with friends: Checkpoint Autumn 2021

CMS worker R in Eurasia works in a place where the best possibilities for the gospel come through time spent in long-term relationships.

“It’s good to spend time with friends. In Autumn and in Spring. In the morning and in the evening. In the cold, and the wind and the heat.”

One of my friends wrote this on her social media page and sent me the link. Even though the comment is general in nature, she had written it just after we had spent a lovely afternoon together. It is good to spend time with friends.

In the Bible, we read that God gave us the seasons and times. He promised, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22) There is “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Throughout the many seasons of life, literal and metaphorical, God is with us! “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

It’s nice to be nice, but…

I’ve grown up hearing people say that I’m nice, which is nice. However, it’s not exactly what I want to hear. Recently, going around the circle at a friend’s birthday party, we each mentioned associations we had with her and she did the same about us. It warmed my heart to see her smile as she said, not simply that I was nice, but that her association with me was that we were both of strong faith and enjoyed discussing our respective beliefs. I hadn’t known that she respected me for my faith or valued that aspect of our relationship. It was good to hear it.

In thinking about her comment and my relationship with her, I would say that there are two important contributing factors—being ‘nice’ and being authentic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect. However, the “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” of those who belong to Christ Jesus (Galatians 5) is a beautiful, attractive thing. When we imitate Christ
and walk by the Spirit, loving our friends as he loves us, our friends can get a taste of his loving kindness.

Everyday conversations

The authenticity comes in not hiding my faith. It’s nice to be nice but I know some really nice people who do not know God or his steadfast love. “What did you do at the weekend?” “Have you read any good books lately?” Answers about church or a Christian book are easy to include as a natural part of life to these frequently asked questions. I let people know I’m praying for them about something going on in their life as another opportunity for them to see my faith as part of my everyday life, and that it is real to me. These little things can open opportunities for further conversation. Sometimes, I have shared something from a sermon in conversation with someone. The discussions that my friend mentioned at her party are in connection to books we have each been reading at various times.

The authenticity comes in not hiding my faith. It’s nice to be nice, but I know some really nice people who do not know God or his steadfast love.

I don’t have these great conversations all the time. They are part of the conversations I have in day-to-day life, which include all sorts of things that are not about faith. However, there are opportunities to talk about my faith in all the different seasons of life and, I hope that over a period of time, they help my friends to see, understand and appreciate God’s steadfast love. It’s good to spend time with friends.

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