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Jesus Creed

On Fridays we are conversing our way through Darryl Tippens’ Pilgrim Heart, a book that explores the spiritual disciplines that impinge upon our corporate life together. The topic this week is one familiar to this blog: befriending. I want to begin with a beautiful quotation:
From Aelred, a Cistercian monk, to a friend: “Here we are, you and I, and I hope a third, Christ in our midst.” And Simone Weil: “human relations perpetually enshrine the light of God.” Here Tippens reflects the semi-mystical nature of intimate human friendship.
How many things do we seek out that reveal that what we are seeking is really friendship? How can friendship be renewed by Christians in a healthy manner? How often do “friends” need to get together annually for it be fair to call them “friends”?
I like the rich use of quotations in this book; and I like the gentle wandering of his style. It’s not a book to skim; it’s a book to ponder. And it will give plenty to ponder.
He begins with a profound comment: a friend of his once informed his father of a new mentoring, discipling program in the local church. The father said this: “We used to have a program like that in my church when I was growing up. We called them ‘friends.’ ” It made me wonder if the development of discipleship programs are compensation for the loss of friendship, and if (at the same time) those who want to be discipled are really saying they want a friend.
I like this line: “God always intended the pilgrim heart to travel in company.”
Tippens gives a listing of the marks of friendship, but I’m not sure if I’m getting each of his points: he didn’t enumerate. (And a tidy guy like me likes to see those numbers.)
1. Protection and safety.
2. Truth-telling.
3. Costly and time-taking.
4. Distance; friendship is not enmeshment.
5. A spiritual dimension.
6. Compassionate and self-sacrificing.

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