I recently asked a friend if he’d like to join a Bible study at my church. We’d been friends a while, and he’d attended my church a couple times. I knew he was living alone, not really committed to anything. His response? “No thanks. I’m good. I prefer to be alone anyway.” Say what?? It’s not that he said no to my offer that shocked me, it’s that he preferred being alone. At that moment, my heart broke.
As an introverted person myself, I haven’t always been great at making friends. It’s something I’ve struggled with, prayed over and worked at. Even though it hasn’t been easy for me, one thing I know, we were made for relationships. God designed it that way. Sure, being alone is easier, but it doesn’t allow for the same messy, honest and real spiritual growth that friendship does. We need that iron sharpening iron (Prov. 27:17).
In college, I started as a very green freshman, shy and uncertain. God brought me out of my shell, and I was able to make a few core friends, people I keep in touch with today. Then, just when I was getting comfortable, I switched schools to better fulfill my major. God again provided friends, this time through a local Navigators group. When I started out in the working world, God allowed me to connect with two fellow Christian co-workers. At every step, God has provided, often with more help than I knew I needed at the time. All I had to do was ask Him and do my part in watching for quality friends. They won’t appear out of thin air, but they just might walk through the front door.
Jerry Bridges, veteran Navigator staff, has been living, teaching and writing about community for years. True Community is an update of his classic Biblical study on “what koinonia, as it is referred to in the New Testament, is all about.”