At our Bible fellowship last week, we watched this movie titled “The Good Lie”, an American Drama written by Margaret Nagle. It was a captivating story of how five orphans along with other children embarked on a difficult journey to Kenya and ultimately to the United States. One thing very obvious in the movies is the brotherhood, sisterhood, and sense of camaraderie that existed among all the children who embarked on this journey. The sacrificial love that these children were able to show each other without any inhibition was very inspiring. It must also be noted that when they finally got to the United States, their ability to make friends very easily endeared them to the people they met and opened doors for them. One could say they were children of grace. It was also obvious that much of their grace came through friendship from people they met and also shared amongst themselves. God extends His grace to us many times through the friendships we cultivate. The thought of how much I have been blessed by my friends sometimes overwhelms me. I do not believe that this happens to me alone. Often times we talk about the grace of God in our lives and how but for the grace of God our situations or circumstances would have been markedly different. On deeper reflections we will realize that much of God’s grace in our lives have been manifested through our friends.
God’s grace sweetens friendship, but friendships marked with grace are rare, and when they come into our lives, they remind us of the goodness of Christ. They remind us that we are not alone. They remind us that we are loved and cherished and blessed. Of all the paths to grace, perhaps none is as easy as enjoying a good godly friendship. A godly friend reminds us that love is the essential nature of being. A godly true friend can be more loving than the most romantic partner. Everyone needs a friend sometimes. The values of true friendships come to light in very difficult times. This was manifested ever so clearly in the movie, “The Good Lie”. During the difficult time that Apostle Paul went through while imprisoned in Rome, there is no doubt he enjoyed the grace of God, not only through the strength to persevere, but also in his continued impact on the people of God. Many of these were done through the grace in friendship that he enjoyed. In his closing letter to the Philippians we read that Apostle Paul enjoyed the friendships of the Church in Philippi and he also enjoyed the friendship of those in the palace of Caesar. He traveled with friends, stayed with them, visited with them, worked with them, preached with them, beaten with them, sang in prison with them and, he encouraged and was encouraged by them. Mostly he enjoyed their company. God created us to enjoy one another. He never intended for any of us to live isolated lonely lives. God created us to be joyful and one of the instruments is through the rare grace of friendship.
I always like to tell the old story about the happenings around the passing of my late wife, Iyabo. She passed in 1998 after six short months of battling cancer. It took but the grace of God and my many friends who rallied round me in a most unexpected way for me to pull through. Raising a four-month-old baby and at the same time going through Chemotherapy and radiation therapy and all the rest was not easy to manage. The grace of God was however manifested in my friendships. Friends will bring food to us, help us clean our house, and come to just encourage us and lift our spirits. Eventually when Iyabo passed, these same friends continued to stand by us. One notable attribute of most of my friends was also the fact that they were members of my Church.
People of God, no matter what we do in the House of God, we must strive to cultivate friendships. Be a friend to someone. We all need friends too, but I also say, if you need a friend, then, be a friend. Those who cultivate friendships will have friends, those who seek to be alone will lack friends. Let us copy Apostle Paul, everywhere he went he made friends. These friends became a source of joy to him. In the Church of God making friends helps you feel so connected to yourself, to your community, and to the divine, that paradoxically, you no longer need a friend but, instead, you become a friend. And in doing this you extend the grace of friendship to the brethren. We can bless a lot of the brethren by sharing the grace of God through being a friend. Take time to be a friend today.
September 19, 2021 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya