Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Friendship and Discipleship

To what degree is friendship a necessary part of true discipleship? I tend to belive that it is highly important. Jesus' words ring in my mind, "You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you." This appears to hold following and befriending in tight tension together.

Must a mentor be a friend, and or can we follow at a long distance, and still grow in grace without friendship? If we can develop well at a distance does this say something about the character of our faith, and of our relationship to God?

I ponder discipleship and friendship as I consider trying to help someone move toward God who is visibly moving away, and justifying it as something positive in the process. How does one once again win those who have been meandering away from Christ, and Christ's deep calling upon them?


Agent B said...

I've always thought friendship was essential too.

It's the last relationship Jesus established with his buddies before the cross like you mentioned (John 15).

And it's far more personal ("because friends know each other's crap") than a teacher/student relationship.

And, friends are a level playing field as opposed to the popular charismatic "daddy/son" relationship...which smells of heirarchy.

Good words, friend.

Bruce said...

Emotionally, having discipleship be based on a hierachical model seems a bad thing, seems abusive or something close. But, looking over the spiritual writings of the saints, the great fathers and others, they line up pretty uniformly on the other side: that a formal relationship is the starting point. Except in the part of Christianity heavily influenced by either Anabaptists or the magisterial reformers. Or the Enlightenment.

What we're trying to do, as disciples being trained, in discipleship, is to move along our life in Christ, with someone else having some leverage. Jesus called the apostles "friends" only at the end of their relationship before the Cross. So, I conclude, we've got a continuum between "no human input" and "heavy, continuous, formal oversight and command." And we go according to our faith.

For me, I've had a discipling shepherd in the past, and presently I go to church and talk with my pastor and brothers in the Lord. And pray a lot.

ded said...

Do we not go on loving the one who drifts away?

Maybe people drift because their hearts and the love they are capable of feeling was never captivated by an intellectual approach to understanding God.

They were instructed to worship an image shrouded in doctrine, when what they longed for was Someone alive to worship.