Friends First

When I was in my first full-time ministry job, my friend and I were driving somewhere, and (as usual) talking theology. He pointed to the radio dial, back when there was an actual horizontal row of numbers. He pointed to the middle of the dial, and asked me to place him and me where we were theologically, center, left of center, or right.

I put him slightly right of center, and me slightly left. He looked surprised. He asked why I placed us where I did. I explained why on both counts. I asked him why he didn’t worry about what I would say in the pulpit. He said since I always began with scripture, he wasn’t worried about what I would say. That taught me something, and I still do so after 20 years.

It occurred to me why we didn’t argue more, or have heated debates so famous in our fellowship. We had decided up front to be friends, and therefore didn’t begin with any mistrust or suspicion that the other was “up to no good”. We began by assuming the best of each other, and small matters remained just that: small matters. It’s amazing what a good foundation of trust can do. Now re-connected, we can still speak openly, directly, and honestly with each other, because the foundation remains.

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