Relating to Each Other in a Frenzied World


Ajith Fernando

Herald Press, 1991, 1993, 153 pp.


The author is national director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka and an internationally known speaker.  This little book, based largely on Proverbs, has more value than I expected.  It’s really about Christian community life.  A culture that values the priority for building relationships has much to say to us. 


Chapter 1: Friendships and Real Friends

“Christian views of friendship and interpersonal relationships are dangerously influenced by the values of the world.  As a result Christians are missing the enrichment God intended them to get from friendship.” (16)


Many search for self-fulfillment, “but costly commitment yields the self-fulfillment that really matters.” (17)


“One key to a deep friendship is time spent in long conversations.” (28)


“We are producing technicians with a lot of facts, rather than thinkers.  Thinkers have depth.  And depth has a richness to it.”  “Those who set apart time for enriching discussions on issues, on the things of God, will rediscover the joy of truth.”  “We need to bring long chats back into our schedules, allowing significant slots of time for truth-related discussions.  Truth is one of the richest aspects of the Christian life an so should be one of the richest aspects of Christian fellowship.” “We are asking that friendships be characterized by the quest for a deeper understanding of truth.” (29)


“Those belonging to the fellowship of wise people want to learn from each other.  So intense is their desire to do this that they are open to rebuke from others.” (30)


“Society has become so pragmatically oriented that people have trouble thinking in terms of truth categories.” (31)


“We are too restless to linger.  We don’t know what it is to be silent before God.  We don’t know what it is to meditate on truth.” (33)


“True friendship calls for time—time to talk.” (35)


Chapter 2: Team Ministry

“In the Bible team ministry is the normal style.” (37) Jesus’ relationship with his disciples was team ministry. 


“When radicals and conservatives work together under common commitment to the authority of Scripture, there is responsible growth.  The radicals ensure growth.  The conservatives ensure that the growth is responsible.  The result is a team that can achieve much more than a group of people who always agree on everything.” (40)


“Often a uniting passion emerges from an atmosphere of worship and frankness.”  “The discussion sometimes grows heated as all persons share their passions.” (44)


“The battle often starts because we have drifted apart.  Often the drifting occurred because we had not met each other as we should have due to heavy schedules.  The battle is a way God gets us back together.” (44)


“Today we do not approach differences of opinion at meetings in this way.  We don’t have time for debates at team meetings.  We are not used to being frank with each other, and thus disagreement is awkward.” (46)


“The testimony of Scripture is that the great biblical leaders were open to intimate friendships with those they led.” (49)


“We must never forget that the model for biblical leadership is servanthood.  That has little to do with status and much to do with responsibility.  Responsibility does not hinder friendship—but status can.” (50)


“Just as God’s nature is characterized by perfect mingling of holiness and love, leaders also must exemplify this dual nature.” (51)


“How can leaders who are intimate with those they lead win their respect?  By integrating holiness with love.”  “The first requirement for a leader’s holiness is an exemplary life.” (51)


“Then the leader must teach, says Paul.  This is the supreme ministry activity of Christian leaders.”  “Our leaders are now essentially administrators who leave teaching to others.” (52)


Off color jokes and unedifying conversations undermine holiness and respect.  (53)


Chapter 3: Friendships in a Fallen World (Damaged Friendships)


“But putting God first does not hurt human friendships.  It only strengthens them.  This is what gives the foundation for a stable friendship.”  “Those whose security is in God will not try to grab security from other people.  Insecure people who look to other humans for their primary source of security put a huge burden on these other people.”  (65)


“Have you been deeply hurt?”  “Go to Jesus!  He knew what it was to be betrayed by his close friend.  But he will never betray you.” (68)


Chapter 4: Unselfish Commitment

“A key way to test people’s Christian character is to observe the way they treat insignificant people when they think no one is watching.”  (71)


“Many friendships are essentially selfish.  Our commitment has actually been to what the person can do for us, not to the person.  “This is an age of disposable relationships.” (71)


Three inadequate responses to the need for discipline: (75-6)

·       Avoid disciplining a useful person because of the cost

·       Attack the problem too late

·       Discipline and then forget the person because they can no longer help our program


“Christian friendship … is essentially a spiritual fellowship.  So when we talk to God about another person, we are strengthening our tie with that person.”  “This prayer for one another maintains spiritual closeness.” (77)


“Prayer should be a basic feature in the job description of a Christian leader.” (78)


Chapter 5: Commitment in Times of Trouble

Trouble shows true friendship. (79)


“The emphasis on the romance of marriage is good.  But romance is useless without commitment, becoming a hollow enjoyment.”  “Relationships always face special strains.  But relationships too dependent on romance face even greater strains.”  “Commitment gives a security on which you can build romance.”  (85)


“Incompatibility is a popular word today.  I believe that is a symptom of thee devotion of this age to self-fulfillment.  When self-fulfillment is defined to preclude personal suffering, then incompatibility becomes a grounds for divorce.” (85)


“Christian commitment in marriage comes out of the belief that, when the marriage vow to be faithful to the end was made, being faithful to the spouse became God’s will.” (86)


“For the Christian, suffering is purposeful, so we will not compromise our principles to avoid suffering.” (87)


“Now more than ever, Christians should be reflecting on the truth that when we are made captives of the Lord, then truly we are set free.  Commitment may seem to restrict us, but it is the only way to freedom.” (89)


Chapter 6: Wisdom Through Friends

We need advice regarding our own plans because our emotional attachments to them blind us to pitfalls and because selfishness can influence us to act in ways unbecoming to holy people.  (91) Team members can help us avoid these errors. (94)


“We must not be too confident about the rightness of our motives and actions.  Our friends see things we may not see.  (with examples following) (94)


“It is not always easy to accept advice.  But those who conscientiously submit themselves to the discipline of being advised by others will en the end be wise.” (97)


“Often we think that because we have done well in one area we are good in every area.  But that is not true.  Because of our sense of achievement, we can become careless and stray from God’s will.”  “True friends deflate the false bubble of success we may have around us.” “People who succeed in public life need close friends who will help them avoid the perils of success.” (98-9)


Chapter 7: The Wounds of a Friend

“Friends must sometimes wound us because they love us.  This happens when they observe our weaknesses and errors.  They are responsible to rebuke us.”  “But being honest can be painful and risky for the one doing the wounding.”  (100-1)


“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1) (106)


“We need visionaries in the kingdom.  But without advisers, they can make big mistakes.  With the help of advisers, their visions will take workable forms.” (107)


Chapter 8:  Friendship and Uncontrolled Tongues

Talk can destroy friendships, such as inconsiderate helpfulness, insincere expressions of concern, gossip, talking too much, betraying confidence, etc.  “We should rebuke unsanctified use of the tongue.”  “The church should be seriously addressing the sins that surface in its body life.” (127-28)


Chapter 9: The Comfort of a Friend

“We must not harp on sins that have been cleansed by the blood of Christ.”  “If harping on cleansed sins is a bad practice, talking about them to others is worse.”  (131)


“Failure makes us vulnerable to attacks which are sometimes worse than the failure itself.  At such times friends are a great help in putting things in perspective.” (132)


“Success in the kingdom is determined by whether the work was done in God’s way of doing ministry.”  “Our conclusion is that ministry teams that meet God’s standards place a high emphasis on being of one mind.  But clearing barriers to fellowship takes time and threatens the technical proficiency of the group.  For example, practice time or sleep could get eaten into, leaving the team unprepared or tired during the program.  But team members have, by paying that price, gained a spiritual power more capable than technical excellence of bearing eternal fruit.” (128)


“Thos who choose a lifestyle that includes cultivating close friendships and ministering in an openhearted way with people become vulnerable to much inconvenience and pain.  But when they face hardship, they usually find there are people willing to bear their burdens and help sacrificially.” (140)


“The thrust of Ephesians 6:12-18 then is that we must not try to battle alone.”  “The norm for battling in the Christian life is in the context of a fellowship or army of believers.” (145)