You may have seen your kids or grandkids use BFF at the end of a text message. The BFF abbreviation simply means Best Friends Forever. Last week I lost a spiritual mentor, a ministry partner and a caring friend, Tony Hostetler. If you were around Tony for very long, you would be convinced that he was your best friend and God’s best friend.
Tony loved God and loved people. He fully lived out the answer Jesus gave to an inquiring seeker who asked which part of all the collection of religious writings, thoughts and Holy Scriptures was the pinnacle of importance? Jesus responded. “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
When you were around Tony, you quickly got the impression he was tight with God. He understood that any of us are as close to God as we choose to be. Like any friendship, you must work at developing your friendship with God. It won’t happen by accident. It takes desire, time and energy. Tony made an intentional decision to start his friendship with God through meeting Billy Graham in 1950. For the next 62 years, Tony made getting to know God his top priority. Intimate friendship with God is a choice, not a coincidence. Tony wanted that relationship with God more than anything else in the world. And he developed the habits needed to nurture that relationship to BFF status.
In the 26+ years that I rubbed shoulders with Tony, I admired the way he made everyone feel he was their best friend. It wasn’t in an artificial salesperson kind of way. It was authentic and from the heart. Tony loved people with the same measure of love he received from his relationship with God. He accepted people just as they came to him. He didn’t judge them. And he offered grace without any conditions. Tony simply represented God—because he knew Him so intimately.
Tony’s passing reminds me to continue to make loving God and loving people my highest value. How about you? Are you being intentional about building your friendship with God? Are you investing regularly in your relationships with others?
QUESTION: What have you discovered to be one of the best ways to nurture your friendships? Please share your comment below.