Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“The Value of Friendship for Salvation”
Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Manaen. His name is only mentioned once (right here) in Scripture. But there is something interesting about Manaen: he was “a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch.” Other translations read, “brought up with Herod the tetrarch.” This is the very same Herod who beheaded John the Baptist, and later handed Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. While Herod and Manaen grew up together, they chose very different paths. Herod heard the message of the gospel numerous times, having personal encounters with both John the Baptist and Jesus; yet at every turn, he rejected the word of God. Meanwhile, his friend became a prophet/teacher in the church at Antioch. Yet despite their differences, Manaen and Herod were “lifelong friends.”
There are at least two things we can learn from this short passage. The first is that salvation depends on our response to the gospel. The second is that friendship does not.
I have to admit that I’m guilty of severing more than a few friendships based on their lack of response to the gospel. Instead, I tend to draw ever nearer to those whom I deem spiritually mature. There’s a constant temptation we face to place value on people based on their spirituality. What many of us can learn from Manaen and Jesus is that while salvation requires faith, having faith (or lack thereof) is not grounds for exclusion. The real issue is how we can befriend the “Herods” of our lives without compromising our commitment to Christ. Today, let’s pray for the humility to live this way.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be salt and light in this world. Teach me to see people the way You see them. Holy Spirit, grant me the humility to love my friends and family as I love myself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Cor. 5