I like to stay out of other people’s business and for others to stay out of mine. I’d prefer to eat alone, study alone, and work alone. At school, I am content to sit in a blocked-off desk in the library with my earphones in.
I have found that I am the same way spiritually. I like to think I am independent. All I need is my Bible and a sermon twice a week. There is some truth in that; I do need time alone with the Lord, and I need to hear His word. But my freshman year in college taught me some things about Christian friendship.
A girl on my cross country team befriended me before the school semester started. I am slow to make friends and usually only keep one person close to me, but my teammate is an earnest, intentional person. We were at running camp in the mountains in Arkansas. I was reading my Bible outside on the rocks near the edge of the cliff behind the cabin. She walked over, sat down, and soon began talking about the Lord. Throughout the following school year, we shared things we were learning in the Word, discussed concerns about our spiritual walk, and prayed together weekly.
I realized that I had been neglecting a means of grace. Through pride and selfishness, I believed I should live my spiritual life alone. In pride, I thought I was capable of godliness apart from fellowship. In selfishness, I knew that making real friendships meant sharing sorrow and difficulty, and I didn’t want to deal with someone else’s problems. (I felt I could handle mine on my own.)
Through a close friendship with another believer, I learned more about the Lord. During long runs, my friend and I talked about God. We encouraged and enlightened one another as we discussed what God had revealed to us that week. In a way, I could be in two books of the Bible at once – the one I was reading and the one my friend was studying.
The friendship not only led to learning more about God from one another; we also helped each other when we were struggling. When one friend was downcast, frustrated, or confused, the other pointed her to Christ – to His power and His kindness. I remember many conversations filled with tears, quoted Scripture, and prayer.
As we became closer friends, we learned where the other’s weaknesses lay and which sins she was tempted towards. I was careless and putting myself before others. She reminded me that people’s souls and God’s glory were more important than getting an A. She was fearful, and I reminded her that her good Father ruled. We kept one another accountable. I experienced Proverbs 17:9. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”
I think of friends differently because of this Christian teammate. Before, I did not think friends were a necessary part of spiritual life. I do think a Christian should have a private, individual walk with God (Matthew 6:6). But the Christian is also part of Christ’s body and thus is part of other believers’ lives. We are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, to encourage one another to godliness, and to love one another (Romans 12:15, Hebrews 10:24, John 13:34). Fellowship with Christian friends is refreshing, beneficial, and required by God. It is to walk alongside other people who love Christ and want to see Him glorified.
By nature, I still have a hard time making new friends. I still study in the library, but now I usually sit at a table with at least one Christian, a member of the same family, a rescued soul sharing the same desire for the Lord.
CJ Snyder grew up in Ingomar, MS. God brought her to Himself in 2009 and continues to show her His glory and His goodness. She is a senior at Blue Mountain College double majoring in English and Exercise Science. She runs cross country for the BMC Toppers. CJ enjoys spending time with her family and being outdoors, and loves to bike, fish, and be in the woods.