Becoming Friends

Becoming Friends

By Paul J. Wadell.

Brazos Press, 2002

Reviewed by Faye Reynolds, CBWC’s Director of Women’s and Intergenerational Ministries

Upon overhearing Rod Olson and Barbara Mutch talk about Becoming Friends: Worship, Justice and the Practice of Christian Friendship , I quickly downloaded the e-book and began a thoughtful journey on the connection between friendship, worship, community and justice.  It doesn’t seem like such a profound idea, but I found myself highlighting many passages that struck my heart.

Wadell asserts that we have made worship into something comfortable, safe and reassuring rather than entering into a dynamic, moving place that demands transformation of its participants.  In one of the best chapters I’ve read on the qualities and power of personal friendship to impact and change our lives, he asks that as friends of God, should not every encounter with His presence not impact and change us as much as other friendships?  True Christian worship allows God to go to work on us, sanctifying us, gracing us, purifying, renewing, and reforming us; indeed doing all that is necessary to make us new creatures in Christ.  Nobody should enter into worship and remain unchanged . . . “ (pg 16)

If we are willing to be made uncomfortable especially as we see the values of God’s kingdom being ignored within our society we will start taking risks, daring to be a source of division and misunderstanding for the sake of justice. There is always a cost for taking the reign of God seriously.  Wadell contends that we have transformed Jesus from a prophet of justice to an itinerant therapist for our souls and thus our nostalgic comfortable worship violates the message and ministry of Jesus.  He also states that the salvation message and story is more than personal deliverance but has great social and political ramifications as God dealt with nations as well as individuals.

I believe that we have missed the power of God’s truth to transform more than our personal lives, but to change the way that we live together in community and societies.  So as intimated in the title of his book, Paul Wadell shows how the practice of our corporate worship is deeply connected to our ability to fulfill the proclamations of Christ to participate in the reign of God.

We cannot call ourselves true friends of God without working to reform our institutions (including our churches) structures and practices that perpetuate injustice.  A commitment to justice has to be one of the identifying marks of the church, a characteristic that helps us discriminate between true Christian communities and false ones  .. “ (pg 150)

This is a very worthy read for pastors who want to regain a vision of what corporate worship can become for the friends of God who long for justice and truth.