2014 Lent 24


I Corinthians 11:17-34

Aside from my dear bride, who is by far my best friend in the world, I’ve had only a handful of really close friends in my adult life.

Up until fairly recently, if you were to have asked me why, I wouldn’t have been able to give a satisfactory answer.  But presently I’m onto something, a hunch; and I think it’s right.  For each of these good friends I’ve known possesses a certain quality, a sort of running theme that I’ve identified only recently.  And for the record, my wife possesses this quality too, in abundance.

But aside from this quality, I can’t say there is any other that runs through all my friendships.

One friend may have been fat, another thin; one athletic, another sedentary; one nerdy, another cool, to excess; one a reader, another a post-literate technophile; one a Christian, another an atheist; one sanguine, another melancholy; one a gourmet, another a fast-food junkie; one contemplative, another active; one outdoorsy, another a couch potato; one selfish, another selfless; one a musician, another who can’t play so much as a radio; one who sees the obvious advantages of a liberal arts education, another who refuses to see them; one a motorcycle lover, another who thinks that motorcycles are the principal vehicular mode of transportation in hell and thus that’s where they should stay, thank you very much; and so on; and so forth.

That’s because, in the long run, with maybe an exception or two, none of these differences matters much–if, that is, a person possesses the one quality to which I refer.  For if the person possesses this quality, then deep, ongoing, meaningful discussion can take place over a long period of time, allowing two parties to accommodate each other in respectful, engaging, and loving ways, even when they disagree.

So then, what is this quality of which I speak?

It is simply this: genuineness.

Don’t you agree?  Isn’t it wonderful to engage in discussion with someone who is out in the open with what he means, not playing mind games or trying to insinuate hidden meanings into what he says, even when that discussion involves passionate disagreements?  Don’t you want a friend who will be up front with you, who will treat you well whether you are physically with her or not?  Really, who wants to be besties with a Janus, a two-faced friend who’s nice to you when you’re present but then talks trash about you when your back is turned?

So: show me a person who is genuine and you’ve shown me a good friend.

I wonder if this is what Paul was getting at when he used the word.  It’s right there at the end of verse 19, genuine.  I wonder, would there have been a lot less division in the Corinthian assembly if more persons there had been genuine?


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