June 6, 2023

Intriguing is the acronym RIP. For me, the abbreviation does not refer to the Latin requiescat in pace or the usual English equivalent of rest in peace but rather the letters refer alternatively to relationship, invitation, and proclamation. At the outset, it is my desire to convey these initials with the Scripture.
Firstly, meaningful friendship is intimately related to these three words: relationship, invitation and proclamation. The threshold issue in life is do we have a meaningful relationship with somebody? Is that relationship binding the persons together and working together to nourish the same? You would definitely agree that faith, fellowship, mutual support, and expression of appreciation are all important ingredients of a relationship. To a higher scale, relationship may be elevated to a greater love, a sacrifice of life. Maybe we can encounter a tale about a young soldier who died saving a friend in battle. However, take heed of this word: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV) As true Christians, did we have regular as well as joyful fellowship with God not only on a Sunday service, but also in the work place, at home or even as we walk or commute ? Have you expressed to Him profound appreciation for the daily bread, sustenance and security? Have you acknowledged the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Mount Calvary?
Secondly, a consequential manifestation of friendship is an invitation of one to another in special events like acquaintance or birthday party, a graduation, wedding banquet, travel or regularly to one’s home. People are invited because they are most valued. During these special moments, persons get to know each other more or with the purpose of wanting to work with you, but more importantly it can nurture the relationship. Appropriately then, the invited person should show positive response to the invitation. Poignantly, from the scripture: “. . . Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15: 15 – 16 NIV) Do you personally know in your heart that you are invited by Jesus in the “wedding banquet” or a room in His Father’s house? Reflect on these hallowed words: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14 NIV)
Thirdly, friends are naturally exultant over their special relationship, reminiscing good memories, savoring the fruits of companionship and seizing the wise counsel of a highly esteemed white knight. Aptly, a faithful friend has all the rights to personally brag his esteemed friend in all or most occasions, whether in casual talks with friends, family members or formal testimonials. Ordinarily in friendship, we can boast of an expensive material gift like an iPhone or an unsolicited friendly advice or truthful rebuke to our mischiefs and derelicts in our duty. However, from the scripture the faithful proclaim this: “Sing to the Lord, all the Earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.” (1 Ch. 16:23)
Last April was my mother’s demise. Albeit the momentary grief, there is more rejoicing in her assured salvation. Citing Hebrews 10:22 NIV: “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Her simple life was marked with joyful friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ; she gladly opened the door and welcomed the invitation of the Lord; and with all the grace and mercy she has received, thus she has proclaimed the good news of salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
With the multitude of deaths, my apprehension is that there is a faint and lamentable cry for those who have departed from this Earth for the reason of a fraudulent or nugatory relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; that these people with “Nietzscheian” creed have rebuffed the gracious invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ; that they never sang the believers’ anthem of Worthy is the Lamb.
It is my utmost desire that you meet a true friend in Christ, not the earthly and pretentious friends who cannot usher you into the Kingdom of God. I pray that your personal friendship with Jesus Christ be translated to absolute Lordship. Hope against hope, death will not overtake you without reading and understanding the gospel of Christ. Finally in this pandemic season, I hope to spur you in zest to partake in the proclamation of the awesome power of God. Know this precious precept: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.” (Ps 28: 7 NIV) (HENRY P. DE LEON)