The life theologic – How to be a Jonathan

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I’m currently at the Oh-no-I-actually-have-to-start-writing-my-thesis stage of my PhD, and am just about to become a hermit permanently attached to a keyboard, so I’ve been making the most of some opportunities to be sociable.  This has mainly involved dressing up in camouflage gear for a friend’s hen do, helping out in the great liquid nitrogen tank fishing incident at work (don’t ask), and dressing up yet again as someone sophisticated and grown-up for the subsequent wedding.

Listening to the beautiful words of the vows at my friends’ wedding yesterday reminded me of a verse I’d read weeks ago and forgotten to write about.  I’ve never heard anyone describe the intended roles for a husband and wife quite so well.  I’ve definitely never heard anyone make the idea of wives submitting to their husbands sound quite so inviting, so congratulations Mr & Mrs Woods – you guys rock!

Anyway, the verse was from 1 Samuel, and goes like this:

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him to find strength in God.”

Short and sweet, but I read this and just went “Wow, that’s what friends are meant for.”  Those are the kind of friends that I want, people who help me to find strength in God.

It’s also the kind of friend that I want to be for others.  Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it should be.  Praying for and with Christian friends comes naturally.  You’re used to sharing your struggles with each other and are able to support each other through prayer.  But how exactly are you meant to be the kind of friend who ‘helps others to find strength in God’ when your friends don’t even believe that God exists?

Going up and telling them that you think God has given you a picture for them will probably ensure that they give you a wide berth in the future.  Even just offering to pray for them when they’re going through a tough situation can be scary.  We worry too much about how we are perceived by others, especially by non-Christians, and this can seriously hamper our ability to be a good friend.

It’s something that we all struggle with, but I think it’s something that God really wants to challenge us about.  We’ve been given amazing examples of true friendship in the Bible, in the example set by Jesus, and in the lives of others, and we need to start living up to them.  We need to be bold in offering to intercede for others, and faithful to them as friends despite how this may affect their opinions of us.  It’s not our job to try to convert those around us.  That’s something that only God can do, but it is our job to be true and loyal friends, and to love the people who have been placed in our lives.  This includes helping them to find strength in God, even if they don’t realise it.

So, this is the challenge – choose someone to be a Jonathan for, and do it with love and boldness.

Go for it prayer ninjas!

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