I’ll Be There For You.
I spent my 20s in the 1990s (most of them anyway). For my age group, the television series “Friends” defined what friendship should look like.
Except, if we’re honest, it shouldn’t. As much as I loved the show, most of their half-hour adventures featured them as at odds with each other until the end when everyone would make up and, well, eventually, half of them would get married or simply end up together.
When they weren’t on a break, that is.
I think we’ve all learned that television is a poor model in most of life, but definitely in friendship. In reality, those six people would have never found each other or stuck together. The friendships that last have more in common than trendy haircuts and a catchy theme song. Friendships that last have true friends!
“I Have No One of Equal Soul.”
When Paul describes his friendship with Timothy, he writes, “I have no one of equal soul” (Philippians 2:20). Our Bibles usually translate it to something like “I have no one like him,” but the idea is that Paul and Timothy were kindred spirits—two bodies with one soul. I love that image, and it doesn’t make me think of Ross, Joey, Monica, or any of the other friends. It makes me think of those dear friends I have who can feel the things I feel, who know how to speak to the needs of my heart, and those who truly “get me.”
You’ve Got Friends Like That.
And I’m sure you’re a friend like that to someone else! I mentioned in my sermon Sunday that this passage has no commands. We can’t read Philippians 2:19-30 and come away with, “Thou shalt be a friend!” You can’t even come away with, “Thou shalt not be like Chandler!” Instead, what we come away with is a view of what a blessing friendship can be.
We have no commands here, but maybe we have examples. Perhaps you could follow Paul’s example and let someone know that there’s no one like them to you, no one of equal soul.
So How Did It Go?
This one was a bear to write (due to the aforementioned structure of the passage) but a breeze to illustrate. I told a few stories of the friendships and kindnesses offered by our church. There were plenty of names and situations to cement the passage in our own locality. The sermon also provided plenty of ideas for those who wished to offer encouragement of their own.
Your congregation needs regular sermons like this. Remind them of what they’re doing right and encourage them to keep doing it. They don’t need their preachers beating them up when they screw up; they do that plenty themselves. Show them where they’ve succeeded.
Be there for them. I’ll be there for you.