In this video, Scott Sauls—senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church and author—suggests that what is often missing in friendships within the church is the spiritual aspect, where the friendship leads to greater spiritual growth and sanctification.
Inside the church, inside Christian relationships, I think the one thing that we often miss is the sanctifying effect that relationships and friendships are meant to have. Friendships are meant to have a spiritual component, and when that spiritual component exists, friendships are transformed, with their ultimate goal as formation into the likeness of Christ. These kinds of friendships function much like what Paul talks about in Ephesians 5:27, when he says that a husband is to present his wife to Christ, holy, without blemish.
Then look at Hebrews 10:24 where it talks about how we are to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Take that image of a spur and think about how it’s used with a horse. You kick the side of the horse with the spur as an irritant, not to injure the horse. The irritating spur drives the horse forward to run at full capacity.
I think we miss that when we hit eject on each other when relationships get tense or difficult inside the body of Christ or when somebody challenges somebody else on a character issue. Instead of saying “peace out” to each other, we really need to press in. We need to go deeper in those conversations, realizing that when a brother strikes me it’s nothing but a favor (Ps. 141:5; Prov. 27:17). We should be grateful when somebody points out a character flaw or a deficit in us because the whole point of life is to grow into the likeness of Christ. We need others to help us see our blind spots. We’re not great at that usually, but we need to cultivate that art in our community.