God gave us things to use and people to love, and we use people and love things!
I am not sure where I first heard that or perhaps something like that. Nevertheless, I was reminded of it when I was reading C. S. Lewis’ book — “The Four Loves.”
Lewis was speaking about “Friendship.”
Friendship . . . . love, free from instinct, free from all duties but those which love has freely assumed, almost wholly free from jealousy, and free without qualification from the need to be needed, is eminently spiritual. It is the sort of love one can imagine between angels.
A friendship between angels is a unique thought that I have never considered. If they bear the image of their maker, do they have personal, relational, and/or social interactions like mankind? And as Lewis states, free from all the sinful aspects that may mark our friendships.
If the truth were known, earthly friendships are, more often than not, as Lewis suggests, un-spiritual. They are marked by instinct, duty, jealousy, and subject to qualification. When Lewis uses the word “instinct,” he is making a comparison with the animal world, where it is just part of natural-born impulse. It is not willful, but natural human instinct.
Why does the friendship between Jonathan and David stand out in such spiritually BOLD TYPE? The friendship was not instinctive, not born of jealousy, and subject to no qualifications.
May I suggest that one of the reasons that the local church has fallen on hard days was initially due to Covid. It was a REAGENT!
A reagent is a substance that is added to another substance that is being tested. The reagent is looking to trigger a reaction. That reaction reveals something about the substance being tested. A reagent is aimed at producing a reaction, usually visualized by a change in color on a test strip. Reagents are used to determine blood glucose, ketones, pregnancy, chlorine, and now the well-known COVID-19.
COVID-19 was a crisis that produced a reaction
suddenly visible by a wide swath of God’s people
in the local church setting.
Most other times, the lack of sincere concern for God’s people happens periodically and intermittently. It is seen and realized by a family here and an individual there — a teenager today and a young adult tomorrow — a new member now and a longtime servant years later.
It is typically seen in dribbles and drabs over time.
It is seen when . . . .
- a pastor never even calls to check on how one is doing after a serious situation
- no deacon, or only one or two, call to say that they are concerned and praying
- a text replaces a call or visit
- a pastor talks about the importance of prayer but never even calls to personally pray with someone in need
- a pastor or staff member evades the trip to the hospital that is rather far away
- a family member dies, and no-one-to-few from the church even makes a personal call or visit
- past years of service mean little to nothing to those who once claimed that they cared and appreciated all that you do
- “our prayers and thoughts are with you” fails to translate into some personal concern and care
- those who called us brothers and sisters in Christ, or “friends,” now no longer care because we no longer have anything to bring to the table.
- a senior pastor time and time again passes off the responsibility of personally visiting a member or friend of the church to other members of the staff 
- few-to-none make it to the funeral home and/or stay for the memorial service
While selfishness is seen in small dribs and drabs — over time — unlike Covid — that self-serving spirit pervades the atmosphere, and the smell is recognized.
The church is in for some hard days ahead, as well as some hard-to-face realities because there is a new and stark sensitivity to how un-spiritual friendships can become within the body of Christ.
Lewis goes on to say . . . .
And it is no doubt easy enough to love the fellow-creature less and to imagine that this is happening because we are learning to love God more, when the real reason may be quite different. . . . Those like myself whose imagination far exceeds their obedience are subject to a just penalty; we easily imagine conditions far higher than any we have really reached. If we describe what we have imagined we may make others, and make ourselves, believe that we have really been there.