The Bible records in John 11:35, "Jesus wept" on hearing that His friend Lazarus had died. I believe it's safe to consider that Jesus had a strong friendship with Lazarus, and before he became King, David's relationship with Jonathan knit them together like brothers.
Most of us have a friend we've not seen in a long time that we can pick up where we parted, in a heartbeat. I call it the Friendship Factor. How does it grow? Last month we talked about Relational Drift as the natural occurrence in relationships unless individuals are putting effort and time into the relationships. This month I'd like to explore the beginnings of relationships, and what constitutes the Friendship Factor that will build -- sort of the opposite side of relational drift.
Relationships begin most often when two people find they have something in common. I believe as a result of the 60's sexual revolution, Roe -vs- Wade, and the slow subtle removal of Religion in society (in reality the removal of Faith in the Bible and biblical values), a majority of relationships today that lead to marriage are begun on physical attraction. As it has been for many generations we are looking for "connection" and like the model of Jesus and Lazarus connection, we still connect with others based on similar interests (sports, knitting, cooking, hunting, etc). When it comes to male/female connections we've often replaced similar interests (spiritual values, missions, books, career, etc.) with solely physical attractions and build on that with stimulation and intercourse. Often it moves to co-habiting, with the thinking it will lead naturally to marriage, but we discover over time that we started in a way that missed the Friendship Factor. (Note: Sex outside of marriage is asking God to bless our relationship while willfully being disobedient to Him.)
Jesus' friendship with Lazarus may have roots in His being God and His relationship with Lazarus being part of His love for His Creation, and probably had something to do with Lazarus' devotion to the One he recognized as God incarnate. But they no doubt put effort into fellowship, lengthy discussions about many things, and perhaps outings together, just as we will do with our close friends.
So here we are today in our marriage, perhaps finding ourselves wanting to build greater strength into our marriage, or with a slight or major drift from the one who sleeps across the bed from us. Is it too late? NO!
God is faithful, and even if we have begun to think "I married the wrong person", God is the redeemer for His children, and gives wonderful Friendship Factor examples for us that we can look to for how to build friendship into our marriage.
The Disciples may be the original "band of brothers" as it's coined and has been used in literature for hundreds of years. It is used to describe the concept of blood brothers, best friends, and "Sisters". As different as they were from one another, the Disciples had the common thread of loving Jesus. Among them there were fishermen, political zealots, a home builder, a tax collector, one of noble birth, a pessimist, and The Carpenter,
They would not seem to be the ideal "band of brothers", but God built on the common thread they had and built something miraculous. Over what really was a short period of time God built a very strong Friendship Factor that God used to transform the world.
We can do something similar in our marriage by taking the common thread, no matter how thin, and allowing God to grow something miraculous like a three stranded heavy rope. Husband, Wife and Christ.
Start with our faith - read and study the Bible together. Can you imagine how different views of God and faith would have been the case with the Apostles as they discovered how their different backgrounds and beliefs brought strength to their brotherhood? Bring the differences in your understanding of God and Faith under the authority of Scripture and grow in your maturity in Christ as "one flesh" as God reveals marriage to be in Gen 2:24, Eph 5:21-32, and throughout the Scriptures.
Like Jesus who took His disciples everywhere, have fun dates, serious times and join one another to discover new things for you both. Nearly 30 years ago Willard Harley wrote "His Needs, Her Needs" and created a recreational list for couples that you may reply to this email and ask us to send you via email. It's a multi page PDF designed to help you find some activities that you both enjoy, and in months and years to come to stimulate your thinking about new activities you can try.
Lastly, our friend Christy Osborn recently posted on her blog the The Benefits of Kissing, showing how it builds the Friendship Factor just as regularly dating our spouse will. Read her blog and take Christy's "Selfie Kiss Challenge." , and consider the "Reflections and Applications below.