I promised a part 2 on the subject of friendship, so here it is!  2017 is set to be ‘A Big Year’, and having relationships that help to sustain us and keep our world large is really important.  Building relational equity with people is vital for Kingdom-minded people with a Heaven-breathed agenda.  After all, God is love, and showed Himself as love by sending Jesus.  At the core of our faith is a message of love that can only be outworked in sincere, authentic and vulnerable relationship.  I get excited when we start talking about this stuff because it is the very essence of the Acts 2 ‘early church fire’ that fueled a movement that is 2000 years old, and only intensifying toward that great and glorious day of Christ’s return. Acts 2 tells us: 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV) There was a phenomenal buzz of community that formed around the good news of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  The people were so transformed by their encounter with God that they couldn’t get enough opportunity to talk about it, share about it, learn about it.  And it moved them to acts of extraordinary generosity because of how overwhelmed they felt at the great gift of Jesus, the revelation of His forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life.  In fact, you could even call it “radical community.’’ It was so attractive that people were being drawn into these rich orbits of relationship on a daily basis!  How awesome is that?! It has long been my desire, and truly my prayer as we go forward, to see the church today reflect the same dynamics as the early church, living and functioning out of the kind of radical community that draws the world toward an irresistible light.  This kind of picture happens when we live a responsive life to the Word and Spirit of God. Let me try to bring that one home: Our relationships are a direct reflection of how well we are responding to the Word and Spirit of God. Our relationships are not dependent on someone else or on external circumstances.  They are driven by forces within.  And, so, as I encourage you to expand your sense of ‘big’ for this year, I am really sending you a gentle challenge to let God ‘go big’ on the inside. I had a beautiful, raw conversation with one of my dear friends recently where she acknowledged that her life had been getting smaller because of a current internal battle.  She found it hard to forgive and to cover people with grace.  It made her want to retreat and she knew that was the opposite of what God was calling her to.  I needed only listen because she has such a soft, teachable heart to the Lord that He had already sparked that Kairos (learning) moment for her.  As she shared, I was struck with her conviction to respond to the Word and Spirit of God.  As painful as the situation was, it was her every intention to submit to God and not withhold from Him.  Reflecting on our years of friendship, it is this very humble inclination of her heart that has been such an attractive quality.  It has always inspired me to be the same.  I’m confident that she will conquer this and go from strength to strength, but our conversation reminded me why she was such a dear friend.  She is simply humble. Humility is a powerful quality in relationships.  Wrangling our pride to allow us to be vulnerable, teachable, changeable, or flexible leads to deep sharing and connection.  Humility serves others, values others, diffuses conflict and selfish behaviour.  Humility notices when another is having a bad day, gives the floor to the friend that needs to blow off steam, pays attention to what isn’t said.  Humility doesn’t make a relationship revolve around me and my needs, but doesn’t play the martyr either.  Humility recognises that we all have much to learn, keeps us curious and asking questions, and reserves judgment. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” If we want to ‘live large’ in 2017, especially in regards to friendship, we can learn to foster humility. It is so attractive that you may well find yourselves creating some of those rich orbits of relationship yourself.