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Feb 2011

Why we need each other: Robert Murray McCheyne and his friends.

I’ve been listening to the recent DG conference where John Piper reflects on the life of Robert Murray McCheyne, the Scottish pastor who was “cut off in the morning of his life” through an illness when he was 29. His short 7 years as a local pastor has had huge ripple affects in the history of the church.

Here is one of the reasons why, as Piper explains:

He took away something else from his university days that made a tremendous difference—deep friendships, especially with Andrew Bonar and Alexander Somerville. They used to study together and pray and sing and evangelize together. [These] friendships were something more than usual. They seemed to have intensified everything that was happening in those days. It’s as though the spiritual effect of an experience on the three of them was more than the sum of one plus one plus one. It seems that effect of experiencing things together was exponential—as though a bolt of electricity vertically from the Lord was supercharged when it connected horizontally among McCheyne and Bonar and Sommerville.

Here is what Andrew Bonar recounts about their dynamic triad:

I sometimes think that we three at that time were like the three disciples you read of—Peter, James, and John before the day of Pentecost. . . . Christ took these three into the chamber of Jairus’ daughter, and taught them how to raise dead souls. He taught us from the very first to put no stress upon human appliances, but to keep to the gospel word. He took us to the Transfiguration hill, and showed us His person from time to time. He taught us to delight in His person, and to behold in a glass the glory of the Lord, and be changed into the same image. He took us to Gethsemane at communion times, and showed us the cup that the father gave him to drink, and which he drank, leaving no dregs behind.

Are you experiencing some of this with your closest friends? Is this what you want friendships for? Would that God by his grace would give us these close bonds that we might experience him in a “supercharged” way. That, in Piper’s words, we could be “bands of brothers—comrades in a great cause— [that] are more than the sum of their parts. May God link [our] arms theologically, spiritually, personally for the sake of this exponential effect.”

(I encourage you to listen the part of this message referenced here, specifically 41:15 to 49:30)



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