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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Number One is Still Lonely

Did you hear why Dracula doesn't have any friends? He's a pain in the neck. We all can be at times, but whether we are the "painer-er" or the "pain-ee" we still need friends. The colorful Mark Twain said, "The holy passion of friendship is so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring that it will last through a lifetime, if not asked to lend money." Friendship is sweet, if we find the right kind of friend. Not the fair-weather kind. Christian Bovee described this flimsy kind of friendship with these thoughtful words: "False friends are like our shadow, keeping close to us while we walk in the sunshine, but leaving us when we cross into the shade." The patriarch Job, while suffering through some dark shadows, told his accusing friends, "To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend" (Job 6:14). And the psalmist, using words later quoted by Jesus Himself to describe the turncoat Judas, expressed heartbreak that "Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18). There is nothing more precious than a true friend, and nothing more painful than a false and fair-weather one who leaves us when the sun disappears and the storms set in.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 records compelling words about the value of friendship — Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Amazingly, those words were recorded thousands of years before modern social scientists arrived on the scene. Those ominous words in verse 10 — "woe to him who is alone when he falls" — have now been justified by hundreds of scientific studies verifying that friendship helps improve and extend life while loneliness and lack of social connections is harmful to humans. Years ago the group "Three Dog Night" sang the truth Solomon tells us in Scripture: "Number One is the Loneliest Number That You'll Ever Know." Our world is more crowded than ever, and due to cell phones, e-mail and other modern communication technologies, more connected than ever. But that doesn't stop many of us from being lonely, even in a crowd or maybe even in the church. It's almost certain somebody you know is lonely and needs a friend. They could be across town in a nursing home, or maybe across the aisle at church. Or even closer to home, they may be across the dining room table or on the other side of the bed. I don't know what your situation is. I do know that one is still the loneliest number. But I also know none of us has to be completely friendless. The night before His death on the cross, Jesus told anxious disciples, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" and "I have called you friends" (John 15:13, 15). "I have found a friend in Jesus" a gospel hymn says, and His death proves it is so. Question is, has He found a friend in you?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ