Friends In The Fray
I’ve recently finished reading one of Christianity Today’s books of the year, a biography on George Whitefield by Thomas Kidd. Whitefield was one of America’s most prominent itinerant preachers. I plan on writing a bit about what Kidd brings to light about this notorious evangelical. Kidd is making the claim that George Whitefield was the headwaters out of which modern evangelicalism flows which makes for an interesting perspective. If Kidd’s thesis is true, it has positive and negative implications for our movement.
Before I plunge into the waters very deeply, I wanted to call out attention to something that resonated with me after almost twenty years of ministry. Kidd writes,
“Escaping the dangers of lukewarm religion, Whitefield insisted, required surrounding oneself with like-minded believers. They could bolster a Christian’s faith as he in turn bolstered theirs. He lauded the benefits of belonging to such a group: ‘It [is] an invaluable privilege to have a company of fellow soldiers continually about us, animating and exhorting each other to stand our ground, to keep our ranks, and manfully to follow the Captain of our Salvation, though it be through a sea of blood.’ To Whitefield, Christianity was not for the faint of heart: it was for the manly and the martial.”
Unlike Whitefield, I have ministered with many women who would also fit this mold. However, his point is a great one that I believe many underestimate. To avoid lukewarm religion, you must choose your friends wisely. In our ministry, our motto is “Live Different.” We fight hard against the gravity of American consumerism and individualism. It’s pull is so seductive and subtle that one of the only ways to avoid it is to do life with a bunch of people who are “animating and exhorting each other to stand our ground.” It’s truly a battle to live biblically in America without getting consumed by the culture.
I might add that finding a like-minded tribe also makes the journey more fun, memorable, and enjoyable. Here’s to those who take the road less traveled…together.
Kidd, Thomas S. (2014-10-28). George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (p. 39). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.