Friendship Is…

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” —C.S. Lewis 

Friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” —Thomas Jefferson 

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” —Aristotle 

Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.” —Eugene Peterson 

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.” —Emerson 

“If the first law of friendship is that it has to be cultivated, the second law is to be indulgent when the first has been neglected.” —Voltaire

Friendship is agreement with kindliness and affection about things human and divine.” —Cicero 

“The light of friendship is seen plainest when all around is dark.” —Grace Noll Crowell 

“For spiritual friendship, which is what we mean by true friendship, should be desired not with a view to any worldly good, nor for any reason extrinsic to itself, but from the worthiness of its own nature, and the feeling of the human heart, so that it offers no advantage or reward other than itself. … For in this true friendship one makes progress by bettering oneself, and one bears fruit by experiencing the enjoyment of this increasing degree of perfection. And so spiritual friendship is born among good people through the similarity of their characters, goals, and habits in life.” —Aelred of Rievaulx 

“The quickest way to initiate friendship is to give people freedom to be themselves.” —Andy Braner

The Horrors Of Crucifixion

Good FridayWilliam Barclay, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, wrote graphically about the horrors of crucifixion—

   There was no more terrible death than death by crucifixion. Even the Romans themselves regarded it with a shudder of horror. Cicero declared that it was “the most cruel and horrifying death.” Tacitus said that it was a “despicable death.” It was originally a Persian method of execution. It may have been used because, to the Persians, the earth was sacred, and they wished to avoid defiling it with the body of an evil-doer. So they nailed him to a cross and left him to die there, looking to the vultures and the carrion crows to complete the work. The Carthaginians took over crucifixion from the Persians; and the Romans learned it from the Carthaginians.

   Crucifixion was never used as a method of execution in the homeland, but only in the provinces, and there only in the case of slaves. It was unthinkable that a Roman citizen should die such a death. Cicero says: “It is a crime for a Roman citizen to be bound; it is a worse crime for him to be beaten; it is well nigh parricide for him to be killed; what am I to say if he be killed on a cross? A nefarious action such as that is incapable of description by any word, for there is none fit to describe it.” It was that death, the most dreaded in the ancient world, the death of slaves and criminals, that Jesus died.

   The routine of crucifixion was always the same. When the case had been heard and the criminal condemned, the judge uttered the fateful sentence: Ibis ad crucem, “You will go to the cross.” The verdict was carried out there and then. The condemned man was placed in the centre of a quaternion, a company of four Roman soldiers. His own cross was placed upon his shoulders. Scourging always preceded crucifixion and it is to be remembered how terrible scourging was. Often the criminal had to be lashed and goaded along the road, to keep him on his feet, as he staggered to the place of crucifixion. Before him walked an officer with a placard on which was written the crime for which he was to die and he was led through as many streets as possible on the way to execution. There was a double reason for that. There was the grim reason that as many as possible should see and take warning from his fate. But there was a merciful reason. The placard was carried before the condemned man and the long route was chosen, so that if anyone could still bear witness in his favor, he might come forward and do so. In such a case, the procession was halted and the case retried. (emphasis added)

Always remember that Jesus willingly went through this for you and me.

Surely He took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered Him punished by God,
    stricken by Him, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
    and by His wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5, emphasis added)

Esse Quam Videri

Guest Author: Dick Brogden

Dr. Warren Newberry is the head of my PhD Program in Intercultural Studies at the Assembly of God Theological Seminary. He has the Latin phrase Esse Quam Videri on his office wall. It means “To Be rather than to Seem.”

The phrase is first found in Cicero’s essay On Friendship. Aeschylus used a similar phrase in Seven Against Thebes, at which the scout says of the priest, “His resolve is not to seem the best but in fact to be the best.” Plato quoted this line in Republic (361b). It is also the State motto of North Carolina.

Coming back to America for the summer (studies and some meetings) has reinforced this precept. America on the surface seems whole and healthy. As a family we have enjoyed McDonalds, Lake Michigan, vibrant worship services and incredible public libraries, among many other wonderful things. Last week however I took a trip on a Greyhound bus. Every American should be so lucky.

Greyhound bus stations in Middle America are fascinating places “to be.” There was a nervous young Amish couple. There was an African American street preaching pair: The woman had her Bible out, loudly laughing, scolding, and reading Scripture to all who did or did not want to listen. Her companion was a monster of a man, tattoo covered, gold tooth glinting in the neon light. He did not speak often, but when he did you were afraid to not pay attention. Hippies, druggies, bums, out-of-work mechanics and returning U.S. Marines. Thin and fat. Old and young. Black, brown, yellow, and white. It was a living mosaic reminding me of what America is, not just what America seems.

It makes me reflect on the dichotomy between who I am and who I seem to be. In God’s mysterious grace, opportunities for higher profile ministry and service are coming our way. In front of pulpits, cameras, microphones, interviewers, and even in front of you through newsletters and emails we can seem to be a certain way.

In The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli twists this phrase to Videri Quam Esse (to seem rather than to be) with respect to how a ruler ought to act. This is such a danger for missionaries… for me… for you.

I write to ask for prayer and for accountability. I want to ask you to pray for the judgment of God on my life. I want to ask that all falsehood and pretension is exposed and removed. I want to ask that there is no hypocrisy or pride left in me. I ask this fearfully, but it is my desire to walk humbly before God, before you, and before Muslims in Sudan. I long to be — not just seem to be — a lowly follower of Christ.

Dick Brogden and his family have served as missionaries in Sudan for 13 years.

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