I recently heard a friend say that the one of the reasons God gave us the Bible is because it is in His character to communicate; God is a communicator. One of the reasons that we communicate is to have relationships and friendships. Therefore, God communicates with us in this manner because He wants to have a relationship with us! Profound, right? Today I want to draw out some lessons from Paul that will highlight friendships.
When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.
On his way back to Jerusalem Paul made several stops. Knowing that time was of the essence and having an uncertainty of what would happen to him, he wanted his stops to be worthwhile. What I find interesting is the number of different groups of people he met. In at least eight places (plus more since in Macedonia he visited many districts, see Acts 20:2) he got together with a group of believers. Paul was a man that appreciated and understood the power of friendships. He spent time with them during this trip up 3 months with a group. He knew that the only way he could make a difference in their lives was by having a strong relationship. Then he was able to say “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27) because He knew he was able to share with them God’s will. I encourage you to study his methods for evangelism in this chapter.
This reminds me of how God is, because Jesus himself came to this world to make relationships with humanity, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He lived among us–what kind of living are we doing? Are we having relationships with people that only think like us? Are we making relationships only to get people to think like us? Or are we having relationships because we love people and want to do them good? The reason we love people is because God loves us. Theodore Roosevelt said “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care!”