St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you...” In his second letter, St. Peter wrote, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
The goal of the Christian life is to be formed more and more into the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to imitate his compassion, his holy life, his careful observance of the commandments, and his teaching. When we do this day by day, hour by hour, we become partakers of his divine nature. As we are transformed by Christ into his likeness, our daily habits and practices help us to walk with Christ and therefore, to walk with God. This is Christian discipleship at its essence.
Central to being formed in Jesus Christ is walking with others. We need friends to walk with us as Jesus’ disciples walked with him. St. Paul took friends along with him as he planted the Church in various places. The early Celtic church understood that everyone who attempts to walk with Jesus must have a spiritual friend. We must walk together if we are to walk with Christ.
Through dialogue, spiritual friends help us to be attentive to God’s presence in our lives. This requires our friend to set some things aside. A spiritual friend must set aside her own interests and preoccupations. She must not analyze what she is hearing or rehearse how she will respond. A spiritual friend resists the impulse to solve problems or fix things that appear broken.
Spiritual friendship is a gift of not doing—not interrupting, not attempting to solve problems, not prematurely or inappropriately advising, not assuming that what has worked for us will work for others. A spiritual friend is a gift of safety. Imagine feeling safe enough with another person that without weighing words or measuring thoughts you are able to pour yourself out, trusting that the other person will keep what is worth keeping and, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.
To discuss and learn more about how we can practice spiritual friendship here at All Saints, join Fr. Ross on Monday, October 22 at 6:30 p.m. Sign up in the foyer. Location to be determined.