And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).
The great strength of the early church is found in this verse. The Word was the center of their lifestyle. The believers prayed together and had close relationships with one another. This produced a unity that enabled the Holy Spirit to manifest in a very strong way among them.
Friendship is essential to unity in a group of believers. And in personal life, friendship can be a great strength. The Message Paraphrase of Proverbs 27:17 says it well: You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
Notice the strength of friendship mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Notice also that Jesus sent out teams of two to minister the power of the kingdom of God. There’s something about Christian fellowship that encourages and empowers us in a way that nothing else can.
When I began my walk with the Lord almost 34 years ago, it was the strength I found in friendship that kept me going. When I came to Jesus, I chose to separate myself from my buddies who wanted to “party.” God gave me new friends with godly ideals and values. We would get together weekly and talk about our walk with the Lord. We’d share our successes and failures. We would admit our weaknesses and talk about our challenges. And as one talked about his or her challenge, another brought a word of encouragement that helped.
That’s the strength found in friendship. That’s the sharpening that we all need! I am in the process of developing small groups that we will call friendship groups. These groups will meet at least every other week, and some groups may choose to meet more frequently. These groups are to be a vehicle for building strong friendship around the Word and around our relationship with the Lord.
If you’re a part of our church, I encourage you to become involved in these groups. You’ll find a great source for personal encouragement, and God may use you to be a blessing to others! The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned (Isaiah 50:4).