For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection…   2 Peter 1:5-7

How many Facebook friends do you have? Go ahead. Open up a new tab, go to your profile, and see what it says.

I have 612. Six hundred twelve “friends”.

But can anyone really have THAT many friends? Is it even possible?

I know what you’re thinking. Most of your Facebook friends are more like acquaintances. You’ve met them once or twice and now they blow up your news feed. Or they’re people you went to high school with and now you want to catch up – and by “catch up” you mean you want to see how much better your life has turned out than theirs.

Yet study after study shows that we only have a handful of true FRIENDS – and that number tends to slide as we get older. When you’re in preschool, everyone is your friend! As you get into elementary, you begin to weed out those you like best and those who have cooties. Entering into junior high, cliques begin to form. Those cliques solidify in high school, yet even within your clique you have some you like better than others.

Then comes college. For most people, if they don’t find their niche as quickly as possible freshman year, it can be a long and lonely road through higher education.

Then you graduate and enter the work force. Think about it. This is the first time in your entire life that you have not been consistently surrounded by people your own age. For 20-25 years of your life you have had a peer group by default. But now the closest person in age at work might be 15 years older than you, married with children.

And it’s not that much better in the church.

Jack Johnson had a song several years ago that asked, “Where’d all the good people go?” I look around the church and I think, “Where’d all the young people go?” I can testify that for a twenty-something, the church can be one of the loneliest places. Oh sure, the older people are nice and friendly. Some might even invite you over for dinner on occasion. But the fact is that sometimes we just NEED mutual affection, brotherly love, philadelphia.

Jesus had that need. He had hundreds of “followers.” He had dozens of “disciples.” He had twelve “apostles.” But he only had a few friends – Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

I think there is something inherent within us that drives us toward connection with others. Humans were meant to live in community. Think about it – even GOD lives in constant, loving community within Himself. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all loving, glorifying, and encouraging each other for all eternity.

I think that Peter is giving us a reminder – we can’t do this Christianity thing on our own. I also think this is why philadelphia comes before agape. Yes, we’re supposed to agapao (love unconditionally) everyone. But it’s practically impossible, even for Jesus, to have philadelphia, brotherly love, with every person we contact.

When it comes to Christianity, there are no lone rangers. There is no flying solo. If Jesus couldn’t do it on His own, then neither can or should we. We need brotherly love friendships in our lives. We need companionship, encouragement, laughter, accountability, a shoulder to cry on, a phone to call at 2 am. We were built for relationships. Without that support system, our godliness, perseverance, and self-control won’t last very long.

We need each other.

Faith – Goodness – Knowledge – Self-control – Perseverance – Godliness – Brotherly Love