Proverbs 18:24 states, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Life is better with friends. We all need relationships, and we long to be known within a safe framework of one or more close relationships. Yet many of us are settling for less. We may be surrounded by relationships within our church community, our immediate and extended family, our work environment, or our social network. But loneliness can occur even in the midst of being “connected” to hundreds and even thousands of people.
But what have been the results? Are we collectively becoming more healthy spiritually? Are we getting together and fulfilling the one-another scriptures? Have we stayed engaged in at least one or more relationships that provide that safe place to be real, honest, vulnerable, and teachable? Are the marriages within our congregations progressing in the right direction? Are we talking to each other about our kids, our parenting struggles, our purity, our quiet times, our careers, and our passions and dreams? Or have we regressed such that we’ve simply become a man or woman of “many companions?” If so, the scriptures warn that this is shaky ground.
A few years ago I began to discover a depth of the relationship between the characters of David and Jonathan that I had not seen in previous studies. And I realized that I was longing for this kind of relationship in my own life. Sure, I was surrounded by people. I have hundreds of “friends” on social media. I was even leading ministries and my appointment book was packed full of relational opportunities! But I found that if I was not careful, I could remain fairly unknown, and as a result felt very lonely in the midst of what could appear to be a rich, relationship-filled lifestyle. And I don’t think I’m unique in this wandering. I see our church filled with people who see their need for relationships, but many are just not making it happen. And so we busy our lives with ever-increasing tasks while allowing our desire for authentic and intimate connections to go unmet. This is a recipe for Satan to offer many substitutes for true intimacy, which continues to ensnare many believers.
This is how the Covenant Relationship series was birthed. It really came as a revelation of God through scripture. It started out (as many of my studies start) as a couple of long lessons to the Orange County, Los Angeles EDGE ministry. Then I broke it into three long lessons for the Orange County Church of Christ in 2014. I was able to travel to the Middle East, Korea, and Mongolia and teach the series. It didn’t seem to matter the culture, language, or history of those churches. We had somehow all arrived at this similar place: Knowing our need to invest in close friendships, but stuck in our indifference, our past hurts, our fears, and (if we’re honest) our selfishness.
All six lessons in the series are available on YouTube and can be accessed here. We hope you will enjoy the series, and consider implementing it in your congregation in a way that with the minister to their needs. Feel free to personalize it, amend it, expand it, shorten it, and be edified by it as the Spirit speaks to you.