Most of you know that until a couple of years ago, I was a runner. Shortly after I moved to Flint, I joined up with a group of people that call themselves the Flint Area Year Round Running/Walking Groups. You can google them. You can join their Facebook Group. You can join one of their groups. You can create your own group and stay connected with other groups with similar goals.
Our group met every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 pm at the “clock” that is in front of the UM Flint Student Center. In fact, there is a plaque mounted on the clock dedicated to the numerous groups that meet there.
As I got to know people around Flint, both through my CRIM group, I would sign up for races that others in the group planned to run, and, as a group, we would train together. Our group grew closer with each training day. I made some life-long friends that even though I had to give up running for a while, we continue to make time for one another.
Single people often think that finding a partner solves the problem of loneliness. But it doesn’t work that way. Loneliness dissipates within a community. While there is more to loneliness than being around people, living with one person doesn’t fulfill all of our need to be loved by others. We need a community. We need to be loved by persons — plural. We can be fulfilled and single, and we can be lonely and married. The secret sauce is the community.
There was a popular comedy series called Friends. The series featured a group of six friends who spent lots of time together. The show quickly increased its base of fans, airing for ten seasons, and reaching number one in its eighth year. The series ended in 2004.
The favorite hangout for the six friends was a coffee house called Central Perk. Two of the characters, Rachael and Monica, shared an apartment situated above the coffee shop. Living in New York City, where anyone could feel lost, this group of friends formed a core social group where each one was loved and cared for by the other five. The show’s popularity comes out of a yearning that we all have to be loved, particularly when we are going through stuff.
It can be argued that none of us can ever fulfill our purpose without involving other people. Without debating the possibility that God set aside some people for solitude and we all know people that we would rather be one of those set aside for such a purpose, I want to focus on the rest of us. The person living in isolation still leaves a footprint. And so do we.
Sometimes, we confuse friends with persons who might help us fulfill physical needs. While someone who takes an interest in our need to find a place to live, or a hot meal, is undoubtedly showing concern for our well-being, this is not yet friendship. Serving our physical needs is a transaction until we learn more about each other. Friendship takes time because it takes building trust, and friendships are not based on the exchange of material things. Friendship is a journey whereby we never quite arrive at a particular destination because it is traveling together that matters.
This may be why the idea of a journey along with walking is so prominent in the Bible. And why we often talk about our spiritual journey as our “walk.” Our lives are like taking a trip from the womb to the tomb. What we experience along with the world as a result of our being affects us and the world. God designed the world in this way. None of us are truly independent of the world, whether we live off the grid or are connected via wires.
There is a story in the Gospel of John, about a time when Jesus gathered with friends. These are friends who traveled with Him for a couple of years or so. They were together for supper. Jesus knew what was coming, and although He had told His friends what was going to happen, He knew that they needed more. Jesus knew that after He left His life on earth, after His death, these friends needed each other more than ever.
If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples
Those of us who claim to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, another journey metaphor, hope that our thoughts and actions are like the thoughts and actions that Jesus had under similar circumstances. We hope that others will see a little touch of Jesus in us. Enough that they will be curious and want to know more.
Jesus leaves us with this picture of a great way to start. “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know.” It’s that simple, friends. When we love one another, we are walking through life with an idea of the mindset of Jesus. And people will notice.
Following Jesus involves people. Unlike the directions that come with the gadgets we buy that were written by lawyers, the instructions for following Jesus are clear. Directions don’t come any clearer than this.
Following Jesus involves people
If you haven’t yet signed up for the Daniel Plan, be sure to do so.1 Each person living in our community who signs up receives your very own copy of The Daniel Plan Journal.2 If you are not a part of the Asbury Community, we still invite you to participate with us, but we ask that you purchase a copy on your own. These journals can be purchased on Amazon or other vendors. You can also go to the DanielPlan.com store to buy this and other resources.
We worship each Sunday at 10:30 am. I hope to see you there. You can find more information about us on our website at FlintAsbury.org.
1 Warren, Rick, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman. The Daniel Plan. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.
2 Warren, Rick, and the Daniel Plan Team. The Daniel Plan Journal – 40 Days to a Healthier Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.