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Missing: Friendship: Jared and Becky Wilson

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2024 5:15 am

Missing: Friendship: Jared and Becky Wilson

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 13, 2024 5:15 am

When did it become so hard to know how to do friendship with the people around us, despite all the options we have to connect? And how are we supposed to feel that close to a holy, perfect, and invisible God? Author Jared Wilson and his wife Becky believe friendships are unmissable--and they've got ideas on where to start.

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So I saw a study, boy it's been a decade, about American men. Nine out of ten American men cannot name one true friend. Would you say that's true?

Yes, I would. I've seen that. I mean, we have a lot of friends, but they're not really friends. I mean, they're acquaintances, they're work buddies, workout buddies, people at church, but in terms of like a pretty close friendship like you had when you were 10 and 11, you know, where you want to hang every second with your best buddy. Men don't do that well, do women?

I think women are better than men. I think we're probably lonelier than we have been, especially since the pandemic, but I do think there's a crisis going on in our whole country with an epidemic of loneliness. Well, we're going to solve it today. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

This is Family Life Today. We got Jared C. Wilson in the studio. We wrote a book about Jesus being our friend. Jared, welcome back. Thank you, Dave.

Thank you, Ann. Let me just say the title, Friendship with the Friend of Sinners, the Remarkable Possibility of Closeness with Christ. We've already talked a little bit about it. Are you that guy? Do you have close friends? I do. Do you?

I feel very privileged and blessed that I do. This is not a strict study or research, but I posted on social media a couple of years ago. I wanted to know in particular, and this is as I was preparing to write the book and beginning to write the book, how many folks could say that they were still friends with someone they knew in high school, that they were friends with in high school, like 20 years later. And the vast majority of people said, you know, maybe connected with them on Facebook or something, but not friends. So their best friend in high school is not their best friend today.

And I'm fortunate. I'm very close with my best friend from high school. We see each other probably twice a year now. And there's a circle of friends that I started sort of connecting with in high school and early college that now at 48 years of age, we try to see each other once a year, sometimes twice a year.

But that's a rarity I've discovered that, you know, the possibility of friendship period is very fraught. And you mentioned, Minday, that, you know, there's been some study about the decline of sort of the kind of fraternal organizations and social networks. So, you know, I think it was Roger Putnam who did, he's a sociologist, yeah, Bowling Alone, where he talks about the decline in bowling leagues and things like that.

People are now bowling alone. But even the decline of things like my father's age or my grandfather's age, they had fraternal orders, you know, Elks Club and Lodge and things like that. But we have, I think, the illusion of social connection today, even the rise of like coffee shop culture or the resurgence of coffee shop culture was predicated on a sense of community, a third place. But really, we're just in there with our headphones on or immersed in a book by ourselves.

And we have places where we can go be alone together, you know. I think maybe there's some desire that's, you know, changing that. But yes, for a long period of time, I think we've gotten very good at building an introverted culture with the illusion of extraversion because of the social internet and everything else. And it's complicated our ability to be good friends even with people. Even when we do connect, sometimes we don't know how to relate anymore because it's been so long. Jared, you're a pastor, you're a professor, you're a teacher, I mean, you're a communicator, author, and you're around a lot of men. Do you think what Dave said, do you think that's correct that men don't have as many close friendships as women?

I do. I think part of it, in the circles I run in, there's a couple of things I think take place. So I interact a lot with young men who are training for ministry or at least some kind of academic training theologically and that sort of thing. There's always the desire, even if it's not expressed, to impress, to look like the smartest guy in the room, to have it all together, whether it's in a church circle, I need to show myself as being spiritual or theological. I want to be the guy up in front teaching or preaching or leading in some way. So there's a jockeying for position sometimes or just I can't be real because then you'll see me as less than impressive.

So I don't want to do that. I think on the academic side of things, too, we have men who spend a lot of time in their head. So they're in a lot of books. They're studying a lot. They're learning a lot. And they have a high IQ, perhaps, but not very high EQ very often.

There's an emotional intelligence that sometimes they lack. And I see it as my job, you know, I direct a residency at our church for young men training for pastoral ministry called the Pastoral Training Center. And I'm not trying to replicate seminary. I love seminary. I'm employed by seminary. I see seminary's job as sort of to put the brain in the scarecrow. And the residency I direct is like to put the heart in the 10 men. We're after spiritual formation.

I want them to come out. Yes. OK. Smart.

Yes. Better preachers, et cetera. But I want them to come out more human.

Also be able to relate to normal people because when they leave the seminary bubble, more often than not, they're going to be in churches that are outside of that world where they have to interact with real people and counsel real people and do premarital work with real people and pastor real people. And so you have to learn how to be a real person sometimes. I mean, do you think the pandemic has in some ways it isolated us? Obviously, we're in our homes then, but now after, do you think that experience has created a sort of a longing in us to say, I want to be around people. I need to be around people, even though it doesn't seem like we're doing it. But is there something in us that, like, I miss that? I mean, a lot of people are now working from home.

You just mentioned earlier that you're doing an online course, which probably wasn't done five, 10 years ago, but now it's sort of normal. But there's something about, like you said yesterday, getting around other guys and other people in church and small groups and class where you're flesh to flesh and there's something that's gone when you're not in a room together. Yeah, we miss something. And I think, you know, it may be just rooted in the incarnation of God, right, that he came and put flesh on. He could have sent a hologram. He could have just sent, you know, beamed down the information to, you know, be written down.

But he actually came and dwelt among us, tabernacled among us. I think if the pandemic was good for anything, it was terrible for a million different reasons. If it was good for anything, it may just be what you described, that it took the gloss off of the virtual reality for us. And it gave us a Zoom fatigue. It gave us a virtual fatigue. It helped us to see, oh, this may be a helpful tool, but this can't be reality.

This can't be the normal course of life. We actually miss out on a lot if we can't, even if I'm talking to you over the computer, it's not quite the same as being across a table from each other and seeing the facial expressions in 4D, actually being in the same space together. There's just an intangibleness about that tangibility that you can't replace if you're on a screen looking at each other. It just can't be mediated that way. And of course, you know, the larger problem is, you know, our whole lives are mediated through screens, it seems like.

Yeah. And so it becomes the burden of trying to look a certain way, appear a certain way, you know, to have an Instagrammable life of some kind, which, of course, over time begins to affect me because I feel like I've got to live up to that. And we're seeing the effects on adolescents, in particular adolescent females, but I think adolescent males as well.

But we're beginning to see the impact of just sort of mediating our life through a screen that's having all kinds of mental health issues on us. And it goes totally contrary to your chapter four, on the unsucking of your gut. Yeah, I used that phrase yesterday. But it's also Jesus, the comforter friend. So instead of like in social media where we're trying to create this image, you're saying, no, Jesus is when he comes in and you're with him. You undo your belt and you're like, this is who I am. This is who I am.

This is all I am. And you say he's the comforter friend. What does that mean that he's the comforter? Well, I want to take folks back to that one home that when you were a kid that you would always hang out at. And maybe it was your home, but usually in a friend circle, there was the one home where you felt maybe even more at home than in your own house. Either the parents were very welcoming or very gracious.

For some folks, it was the parents were never there. That's why it was very comfortable to be there. Maybe there were nefarious reasons to want to hang out in that house. But there was like the home that was the hangout. And you felt like you could just be yourself there. It's not like school where you've got to be performing. It may be at your own house where you have to follow certain rules and look a certain way.

You're welcomed in. You can be yourself. You can be the kind of friend that you are with your buddies.

And it's just the place where everyone feels comfortable. And so I use that as an illustration to say the interaction we have with Christ is like that. That he's the friend you can always be yourself with. In fact, he doesn't want you any other way. If you come to sit down at the table in a way to try to impress him, he'll stop you. Because he's not fooled by that for one second.

You can't impress him. First of all, he's God. You're not going to do anything and have God go, Oh, that's really impressive.

I've never seen that before. That doesn't exist. But the better news is you don't even have to do that. He doesn't want that from you. He wants the real you.

And so to sit down at the table with him means you can be yourself. You can let your hair down. Unsuck your gut.

Whatever you want to say. I think the other illustration I use is I came down to the breakfast table once when I was a teenager and heard a hurtful comment. I didn't have a shirt on. And so I was living like it was my house and feeling comfortable until a comment was made about my physique that just instantly made me go, Oh, like, yeah, I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I wanted to cover up.

And that just has stuck with me. Like, even in my own house, I was not approvable because of something I couldn't even control. It was the way that my sternum is shaped.

I couldn't fix that. But it became now a source of embarrassment for me. So now I have to cover up in my own house. I've got to put on something so I don't make someone else uncomfortable. So the illustration I use is you may not want to show up at the breakfast table with Jesus without a shirt on.

But you could, right? At least spiritually, I can be emotionally naked before Jesus and he's not going to shame me. He's not going to embarrass me.

You know, he's the last person you would think you could because he's God. And so you want to cover up and you're embarrassed. So like Adam and Eve, right? Their first impulse when they realized their nakedness and they were ashamed was to cover up. So they sew fig leaves together and they hide in the bushes. When the Lord comes, he calls them to account. And he basically says, this isn't going to cut it. Like, you cannot cover yourselves. But he doesn't say, so now walk around in your nakedness and shame. He covers them, right, with animal skins. So Jesus will never expose us to shame us. If he exposes us at all, it's to cover us with the blessing of himself.

I think the animal skins is very telling. I mean, it's a forecast of his own sacrifice. Adam and Eve brought death into the world and it was death that's going to cover them.

And that's a picture of the crucifixion. So he covers us with himself. It's the only reason that he would ever bring up our shame. It's not that he would leave us there, but that he might cover it with his own graciousness. I mean, you talk about a friend you want to run to. Yes. That's your friend.

Talk about a bite. You have a chapter where Jesus is the unhurried friend. And John 15, you know, we know as pastors and teachers, that's just a beautiful passage about abiding in Christ and bearing fruit.

I'm not sure we always understand what that looks like, so help us out. Yeah, part of it is just going against the notion of trying to perform for Jesus, that I think that he, you know, his disposition towards me is based on how I can produce for him. And even that passage in John 15, like, we produce fruit based on our abiding in him, not based on our spiritual willpower or kind of, you know, sweat equity or something like that.

But it's also, I think, a comfort for those who just feel like, not only do I know I can't produce for Christ, like, I don't even feel like I can produce, period. I'm in a low spot. I'm in, you know, a valley in my life.

I'm in the pit and where any other person might say, come on, pull yourself up by your, you know, bootstraps and let's get going. Where even our earthly friends might get a little impatient with us. You know, anytime we reveal a kind of, well, emotional nakedness to some, it changes the conversation. Sometimes it redefines friendship. You know, things get real when we get real and we may find out who our real friends are. And then maybe some who were like, you know what, I can't stay back here with you. I'm moving on.

And if you're not a mover and shaker, you know, we're not going to be friends. And Jesus isn't like that. If we're stuck, he sits down with us. If we just cannot move, he's not sort of cracking the whip over us, like, come on, let's get going. He will come and actually abide with us, reside with us. He is near to the broken hearted. He will not despise the contrite in spirit. That's the kind of friend Jesus is. So if we got to slow down because we're exhausted, if we're hobbled, we pull up with a limp, he's not 10 steps ahead. He slows down to walk alongside us. That's the kind of friend Jesus is. He will not leave us alone. Have you guys had friends or someone in your life that you felt they totally saw you and loved you?

Maybe it's a spouse, a parent. Have you had that? Yeah.

Who is that? I mean, my guys. I'm doing life with six or seven guys for the last 20 plus years. And I feel like we all, we've gone there. We shared all the dirt. We have highs and joys and valleys, but I think they see the real broken, messed up me and they love me.

Do you have that, Jared? Yeah. The guys I've known since high school. I mean, we've been through so much together. We all knew each other before we were married, had kids and now grown kids. And we've been through deaths together. We've been through marital troubles together.

We've been through the worst that you could see in someone and still friends. But I have a friend named David that I met in my church planting days in Nashville as well. And he's one of my best friends. There was a time where I was really struggling and my first thought was I need to talk to David. Like, you know, he could help.

He would offer good counsel and he just needs to know what's going on with me. But I didn't do it because I didn't want to be a burden on him. I thought I don't want to be, you know, not like I don't want to be somebody's project, but in a way I don't want him to worry about me.

Now I'm adding to his plate. He's gonna have to think about me. And what actually eventually got me to change my mind is I started thinking about David being in my shoes. And if he thought about me, what I was thinking about him, if he thought I don't want to bother Jared, he wouldn't. And I found out I would be so upset with him. I would think, why wouldn't you? I would want to pray for you.

I'd want to help you if I could. And, you know, you must not think I'm a very good friend if you wouldn't trust that. So that's what actually prompted me to pick up the phone and call him.

And of course, it went as I hoped that it would. You know, he didn't treat me like a burden. He didn't treat me like, oh, you know, I've got little kids. I've got a lot to deal with.

And now you're gonna throw this on me, you know? No, he was concerned. He prayed for me. He offered me advice. And it took me trying to, you know, having to like work through the thought experiment of if he were in my shoes, what kind of friend would I hope he would think I would be? You know, that's how I think we ought to think of others as well, you know?

That's what I was going to say. When we have experienced the grace, the love of Jesus, that friendship, I think that gives us the motivation to become that for someone else. I totally agree with that. Well, the thing I think as we get older and now we're grandparents is friendship at this season of our life, it's always been true, but has to be super intentional. Because if we have free time, we're going to go help out with the grandkids or be with the grandkids. Or family, yeah. It's going to be more family or go to ball games and watch kids or grandkids. If you don't put it on the calendar, the natural rhythm of our lives where I'm with the guys more, even playing golf or doing different things is not as natural as it was. So now it's like, if I'm not intentional about this or they're not intentional, we're going to drift apart.

We're still friends and they probably still say, yeah, Dave's one of my best friends. We haven't talked in a month or two months or three months. And it's like, you got to sustain that. And I don't know about women, but I know men, we can let it drift.

And then we're two to three months down. And I don't think you can let it go that long and still be close. Like you said, with God or with a buddy, you got to be in communication at least one way or another and probably not just texting and emailing. There's got to be a voice every once in a while that you actually talk to somebody and maybe sit in a room together. And think about in the community of the church, for instance, the way we typically do friendship or attend friendship is by orchestrating some kind of event. We're going to do a thing for two or three hours together. We can still kind of put on the self you want others to see. But if you're doing life on life community, which is, hey, I'm going to go do something or we're going to have I'm going to be home today. Why don't you come over and now you've got sort of an indefinite amount of time where you're actually life side by side. They can see the real you. So like when my wife invites one of the young ladies over to the house to just hang out and they're there six, seven, eight hours during the day while Beck's doing house stuff and they're just chatting. I mean, that's discipleship. That's sharing life together.

And then that young lady can see. So like when I come home, they see, OK, what's the interaction between me and Becky and how are things? And they see into our real life in that way. Yeah.

And there's things aspirational and there's things that are kind of take the gloss off of, you know, oh, you know, they may have an idealized version of Christian marriage or about me and Becky's marriage. And they actually get to see, oh, this is the real. Yeah, this is the real thing.

This is what it really looks like. Yeah. But that's how we actually end up being close with each other as we see the real self in each other.

And I think, you know, you said it earlier, the unhurried Jesus. I think that's something we should try to emulate in our own life. Yes. We live so hurried. And when we do spend time with even a close friend, often it's like, you know, are you done yet? Are we moving on? Checking the phone.

Checking the watch. Yeah, I was at a funeral. I think I did the funeral years ago about a guy I didn't know very well who was in our church. And the open mic thing happened. And the theme of the open mic was he was never in a hurry.

People were weeping. It's like I bump into him and I knew he was busy and I knew he was headed. But he always stopped. He looked at me and listened and I never felt like I was a bother to him. He was never in a hurry. And I thought, that's what people thought of Jesus. You talk about the most important person in the world with a mission.

They felt seen because he was fully present and wasn't running somewhere. Yeah, there's a fellow I saw online the other day. I didn't know him, but he was talking about a friend of mine. And he tweeted something about my friend. He said he's the most interruptible person.

Oh, wow. That he's ever known. And I thought, he is a very interruptible person. I don't know him on a day-to-day basis like that. But what a thing to be able to say about someone.

I can go to him and he's not bothered or frustrated. It was convicting to me because I don't think I'm a very interruptible person. When I'm focused on something and somebody brings something else or tries to ask me a question, I'm like, this is the important thing. Not you, the flesh and blood person that I should be, caring for this project or whatever.

I'm exactly the same way. You know it. Think about what that says to our family, to our spouse, or to our kids that dad really doesn't have, mom doesn't really have.

That's terrible. We need to emulate the one who's the friend of sinners. Jesus was the most interruptible. The interruptions were the ministry in the life of Christ.

Oh, guys, now we're getting really convicting. You know how I know that I don't have that is because people say, I know you're really busy. I do that all the time too. You do too? Yeah. Which means I know you don't have time for me. Right.

And so it's kind of the opposite of what we're talking about. I always want to say there was a lady I went to go visit in the hospital. This is when I was pastoring in Vermont. And she was just so wide-eyed that I was there. And she said, I can't believe that you'd come see me. And I said, why? She says, because you're just so busy. And I just said, sister, this is what I'm busy doing. This is what my job is. This is what my life is.

I want to be here. It's not busy-ness, right? It's not busy-ness and you're some sort of interruption to that. That's good. If our people in our lives, I think, could get that impression from us, that they're the business that we're about. Yeah.

I think it would be better. A good question to ask your spouse. Ask your kids tonight. Do you feel like I'm present? Do you think I'm too busy? Do you feel like I'm fully there for you?

Do you want to be my friend? I mean, we should be like Jesus and we run to him or people running to us. You talk about Jesus being a generous friend.

What do you mean by that? We're going to hear Jared's answer here in just a second. But first, I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jared C. Wilson on Family Life Today. Jared's written a book called Friendship with a Friend of Sinners. And this book really helps you to gain insight into building a close, honest, and unconditional relationship with Jesus. Well, you can get your copy now with any donation that you give to Family Life Today. You can go online to and click on the donate now button at the top of the page. Or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And feel free to drop us something in the mail if you'd like to.

Our address is Family Life 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832. Now, here's Jared's answer to Anne's question about Jesus being a generous friend. I think a lot of us sometimes think that in the gospel I get the forgiveness of sins and then the rest is kind of, it's on me to kind of keep things going. That's how my Christian life was for a number of my years when I was a younger man. I thought, okay, I have the forgiveness of sins, but everything else is kind of, it's on my back to, you know, perform. So like in John's gospel, in John chapter one, he says, from the fullness of Christ we receive grace upon grace. So there is an endless sort of fountain of grace that comes from the good news that we receive. And so it's not just the forgiveness of sins. I am justified before God because of what Christ has done. I'm justified by faith. But I also receive sanctification through the gospel. Grace of God is empowering my becoming more like Christ, so I have that gift. Within the, you know, justification I have adoption as a son. He treats me as a co-heir with Christ. I have the same rights as a son would because of Jesus. I can boldly approach the throne of grace in my time of need.

I don't have to like, you know, submit a request form to make an appointment. I can just walk in anytime I want because of my adoption. I'm treated as a son. I have union with Christ. I'm seated with him as Paul says in Colossians. I'm seated with him in the heavenly places. Even now I'm seated there.

Present tense. I'm hidden with Christ in God. So there's just a treasure trove of gifts that we receive that sometimes we don't think about or meditate on. And it just shows us how generous Jesus is. He's not a one-time giver. He's an eternal giver of his grace. He's an endless fountain of grace for us. You know, it's interesting, you don't know this, Jared, but one of our themes for really this year with family life is Psalm 34, a taste and see that the Lord is good.

And I'm not kidding. The last couple of days talking to you, just listening to Scripture and your vision of Jesus has given me a sense of, man, he is good. And I want to be closer with him. So thank you for that because that's something we've been reminding our listeners of. We get this chance every day to just take a look at God in fresh ways. And the way you've presented Jesus as a friend of sinners, of us, makes this draw in.

It's like if you haven't tasted that recently, taste and see, you will know he's good. Amen. Now, coming up tomorrow, what are some practical tips for maintaining intimacy in a busy family life? Well, president of Family Life David Robbins is here with Meg Robbins to talk about just that with David Ann Wilson. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-13 07:41:32 / 2024-02-13 07:53:43 / 12

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