I hold you in my heart” – Phil 1:7

Meaningful relationships are important for our health and well-being. There is no greater value than that of a good friend. We must nurture close friendships.

Don’t we not long for that one person who will be our best friend forever? It’s extremely difficult to find good friends. We are all aware of that, right?

Friendship in Philippians

However, finding lifelong friends is easier if you focus on building ‘Christian’ friendships. Let’s find out how you are best served by Christian fellowship from Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi.

The book of Philippians offers the best description of Christian friendship

The Book of Philippians probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about friendship.

However, Paul’s use of the terms phronesis and koinonia in the book of Philippians offers the best description of Christian friendship. 

Koinonia refers to the close friendship shared by Christians. A deep sense of personal connection lies at the core of the Christian community. So they love, think, and live in peace (phronesis). 

Isn’t it true that when two people become friends, they form a bond that extends beyond mere acquaintance or association?

Likewise, when two people share a common commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord, it fosters a deep and abiding friendship.

The Philippian Church was dear to Paul

Notably, when you read the letter to the Philippians, it is clear that the church was very special to him and that the church in Philippi was dear to Paul.

A common commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord fosters a deep and abiding friendship.

The foundation of any Christian friendship is a shared devotion to the Good News of Jesus Christ. A bond formed over a shared faith and a common purpose can last a lifetime.

Not surprisingly, Paul and the Philippian church maintained a close emotional bond due to their love for each other and their shared suffering for the faith (1v29-30). 

Generosity, trustworthiness, dependability, and loyalty are the hallmarks of Christian friendships.

Christian friends are those who pray for you, who support you through good and bad times, and who lend a hand when you’re struggling. A Christian friend is a close confidant who stands by you.

A Christian friend is a close confidant who stands by you.

Paul prayed for the church (1v3-5), sincerely sought their spiritual progress and the joy of their faith (1v25), and wished to offer himself as a sacrifice for the service of the church (2v17).

Paul, too, had the support and encouragement of the Church in Philippi. The Church stood in solidarity with Paul (4v15), shared in his distress (4v14), and sent financial gifts (4v16,18).

A wonderful example of Christian Friendship

What a wonderful example of Christian friendship between Paul and the Philippian Church!

God plays a significant role in forging Christian friendships. God offers us the gift of friendship by bringing into our lives those who love and serve him.

He brought Paul’s team and the church at Philippi together. More importantly, he helped them remain friends for the rest of their lives.

Churches must become spaces where Christian fellowships are made easy.

Church: The Best place for friendships

Churches/Fellowships must become spaces where Christian friendships are made easy. Sadly, there are Christians on our friend lists, but our friendships aren’t Christian enough.

While we attend the same church, there are those with whom we have never shared our faith, prayed together, read the Bible together, or talked about our personal spiritual journey. 

Paul developed deep Christian friendship with the Philippian Church to the point where he could say, “I hold you in my heart”.

The best way to experience lasting, meaningful connections is through Christian friendships. We risk missing out on God’s best for our lives if we hold back.

Aha Moment Questions

1. Do I nurture Christian friendships? Is it easy? Why not?
2. Do I grow closer in my friendships or do I withhold myself? What can I do to build Christian friendships in my Church/Fellowship?
3. Do I have a list of friends for whom I pray, who I can confide in, and whom I hold dear?

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash
Samuel Thambusamy is a PhD candidate with the Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life.