True Friends

This week’s eNewsletter
feature story is written by
Rev. Raymond Hylton, FPCE senior pastor

Dear friends,

According to Brandwatch, folks with a Facebook account have an average of about 155 “Friends.”

But, if you were facing an emergency at 3 AM, how many of these “Friends” could you contact? Most people really have two or three good, close friends, and they are not “virtual.”

Funny, isn’t it, that Americans spend so much time on social media posting messages and sharing pictures with virtual friends while neglecting opportunities to build relationships with real people?

In the Bible, the Hebrew word for friendship and secret is the same in some contexts. In this life as we really live it, we will only have a few close, true friends. There is no way we can go around telling everyone who comes along the deepest feelings and secrets of our hearts.

While reading through Ecclesiastes, have you noticed the Teacher’s tributes regarding friendship? In an often bleak and barren vision of our earthly landscape, he finds true substance and value in relationship with friends.

‘Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.’ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Friends like these are worth more than gold. Here’s why:

  1. They add profit: Two are better than one because they have a good reward or return for their toil (vs.9). If you are driving the 920 miles from Chicago to Denver, the trip is shorter when you have a good friend to share the road. We get farther faster with true friends as opposed to going it alone.
  2. They provide support: For if they fall one will lift the other up. but woe to the one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help (vs. 10). This is the ongoing vision for our church. Friends who pick us up when we fall. And it is not a matter of if we fall, but when we fall.
  3. They instill strength: And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken (vs. 12). Life is hard. Face the challenges of the day alone and we are quickly outnumbered. So who’s got your back?

There are people in our church who have my back — this I know, and I pray you know those people, too. We know there are certain people in our lives who love us unconditionally. So, those who might happen to be against you? who stand opposed to you?… They cannot bring you down because you know you are known, you are loved, you are valued; true friends have your back.

And, best of all, God loves you. Be sure of that.  

Someone said the way to know who your friends are is to look at who shows up when you are down. True friends stand by you and they never let you fall. I want FPCE to be a “sticky” church like that when it comes to friends.

I want our church to be known in Evanston as the most hospitable, friendliest, most caring church.

I want our church to be a place where nobody cries alone. No-one dies alone. No-one rejoices alone. No-one walks alone. No-one suffers alone.

I want our church to pass this friendship test: If something happened at 3 AM tomorrow, would you have someone in your contact list from this church that you could call? I sincerely hope so.

Your friend and brother in Christ,

Pastor Ray Hylton