“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis
Friendship is like art: beautiful and abstract. Friendship is like philosophy: deep and thoughtful. I am an appreciator of all three of these things, so this Lewis quote speaks to me. Friendship IS unnecessary insofar as it has no evolutionary advantage. Close, intimate relationships add little to our survival ability. Community adds, relationships subtract. This is a relatively easy concept to fall for until you actually spend time with people who share your loves and passions.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to minister to teens this summer through a missions camp. I am the program leader, aka the “Words Guy.” Essentially, two other young adults and I run an entire camp for the whole summer. As one could imagine, this is not a simple task, nor is it one to be taken lightly. Therefore, we had to undergo some training…
Sunny Colorado. I arrived a day early to sightsee in Denver. I fell in love with that state. It is beautiful and full of cool sights to see. After a day in Denver (and two visits to the Snooze A.M. Eatery), I headed back to the Denver International Airport to… Meet new people. As a guy who has two people that he hangs out with regularly, one of whom is an agnostic sociopath, and the other is a Reformed introvert, I was nervous to venture into a group of religious people that I assumed would be mostly outgoing. I was absolutely right.
I got to the airport before most people — a few stray people beat me — and, eventually, the airport filled with young adults who were excited to meet each other. I was a little overwhelmed. Finally, we headed to the training facility, where I remained overwhelmed by these big personalities. I did not think I was going to like it at all. But then something strange happened…
Living with a group of 50 people for two weeks has this strange ability of drawing you all together. We became a family. One body of different personalities, denominations, gifts, etc. Working together for a common end goal: the glory of Christ through our lives. I was taken aback by my own attachment to these people. I even almost teared up when we all left each other. We developed a bond that could not be created artificially. It was a bond that could only be created by God.
Then, comes travel week: where a minivan became home for about 30 hours. Where you look out the windows at beautiful landscapes of trees and mountains and fields. Where you have an anxiety attack driving the interstates in Atlanta, GA. Where you try to stop at a Chick-fil-a on a Sunday. But, most importantly, where it becomes real.
The reality of what we are about to embark on hits like the Titanic on an iceberg (that seems irreverent, but it’s actually a reference to our super-dope lip sync battle). Wow. We three are in charge of positioning kids for a life change this summer. God is going to be using me to do things that I didn’t think I would be doing at 21. How am I supposed to do this?
This is absolutely stressful for my outgoing, introverted mind. I have to talk to people most of my days? I just want to read my books and listen to/play my music. I am not equipped for new people EVERY. WEEK. I am not ready to do paperwork and keep track of expenses. I am not ready to council kids. Why am I doing this? What should I do?
Then, I remember…
God put me here. God is sovereign and providential. I would not be here if I couldn’t do this somehow. But, how? Well, by trusting God, of course.
In his book, Jesus the King, Tim Keller discusses the idea that the Trinity is a “dance.” Meaning that God is perpetually joyful because all three Persons of the Trinity exist together in continuous glorification of each other. Meaning that God did not create man to worship Him, since He is always receiving glory, but rather created man to join into that Joy. In His great love, God saw that this Joy was to be shared. Therefore, God created man to join into the dance of Joy.
This leads us to John Piper’s Christian hedonism: “God is most glorified by us when we are most satisfied in Him.” How does this become a reality, though? How does one become fully satisfied in God? The answer is trust.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13, ESV)
We are given the Holy Spirit. That’s why Jesus left after His resurrection. The Holy Spirit is God WITHIN us. Through the Spirit, we are given the ability to trust in God. He allows us to do the things that go against our nature. When He is in us, we can trust in God. In fact, we have no excuse not to trust Him. When we are regenerated and given the Spirit, we become without excuse to do the things God want us to do. Now, we are still sinful and will continue to mess up, but the fact remains that we can do it. We can trust God.
We should never be discouraged and perpetuate the false philosophy that we can’t trust God, because we can. He has given us that ability. We just have to put our own selfish motives aside. Self motive gets in the way of Spirit motive. We often forget that God’s plan is going to be so much greater than our own, wherever He takes us. But, we can find satisfaction in Him and Him alone. We can trust Him and give our lives to Him fully, no matter where we are, because we have Him within us.