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Building Blocks of Community VI: Faithful Wounds

Someone who never rebukes you, never challenges you, never takes the knife of their words to your sin is no friend to you, but an enemy. One wise pastor put it something like this: the person who is not an enemy of your sin is no friend to your soul. This means that welcoming a friend includes an openness to receiving pain, to experiencing wounds at their hands. Do you want friends? Then prepare to bleed.

There are four lessons, then, from Proverbs 27:6: first, get this kind of friend. Second, learn to wound as a friend. Third, learn how to receive a wound from a friend. Four, rest in the faithful friendship of Jesus Christ.

First, get this kind of friend. Seek such a person out. If you don’t have this kind of friend, you need to search high and low until you’ve found him. But if you hear about this kind of friendship and desire it, and then go away and never do anything about it, then your failure to obey prevents you from experiencing the transforming power of God’s Word. So start searching! Sometimes this begins when you take someone to coffee or to lunch, and ask them what they see in your life. Open yourself up, force them to answer the question, and if they answer with firm grace and sharp truth, then you have found a true friend.

Second, learn how to wound. Simply because your friend is bleeding doesn’t mean that you have made him more holy! There are a number of other passages of Scripture that inform the character and manner you should have when rebuking a friend, so learn them, know them, and cultivate them in your life – kindness, mercy, forthrightness, hope. Realize that it is no small thing to wound a friend: this is how friendships can be destroyed and fall apart. You might confront someone in their sin, and even if you cover the rebuke with three feet of grace, they still might harden their heart, and never speak to you again. But if you really love them, then faithfulness demands that you sometimes take that risk for the good of their soul, and wisdom demands that you minimize that risk by pursuing the spiritual discipline of delivering a godly rebuke.

Third, learn how to be wounded. Our natural human tendency is to shoot the messenger, but you need to have a safety on your blaster so that you don’t compound the issue. How do we keep that from happening? Wound yourself enough with the Word, and allow God to heal you. Practice taking a punch by being ruthless with your own sin. If you are faithful to attack the sins in your life that the mirror of God’s Word reveals to you, you will be well equipped to receive a wound from your Word-wielding friend in that blind spot that you missed.

Fourth, rest in Christ’s friendship. You may feel that friendship just became a burden, and your relationships that used to bring you rest are now a whole lot of work. But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus is your friend. Jesus is the friend who will never leave you nor forsake you. Jesus is not afraid to confront your sin. Jesus rebukes and exhorts and encourages you with perfect toughness and perfect tenderness, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to enable you to pursue holiness and holy friends not in your own strength, but with all the power of heaven at your back. So rest! Believe the gospel: you are a terrible sinner, and a lousy friend, but Jesus is a mighty Savior, and He offers you not only forgiveness, but friendship. If anything has the ability to transform your earthly friendships for holiness, it is friendship with Jesus Christ.

Posted on Thursday, September 12, 2013 by CJ Bowen