You might not expect it but the Bible has many things to say about friendship; something that may seem mundane on the surface but is so important in today’s increasingly divisive world.
In John 15:13, Scripture counsels us to love one another in the way Jesus loved us. The very best way to love is an ability to put our lives on the line for our friends. And the verse says it is a command, indicating its importance. Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, gives many counsels about friendship in such verses as Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 17:17, and Proverbs 12:26.
This facet of our daily lives is explored in Every Nation Church Malaysia’s recent musical Price Less, a vibrant but also thoughtful celebration of friendship. Comprised of entirely self-composed musical numbers, and combining drama, dance, set designs, comedy, reflective moments, sometimes even grief and disappointment, it is a multi-faceted production in conjunction with the well-known One Accord Productions.
Price Less is set around the Super Save Mart, a typical neighbourhood supermarket located within the medium class suburbs of Kuala Lumpur and owned by a semi-modern family who have been around for years.
Two part-time store assistants, Joey and Jessy, have a passion for music and they are actually quite good at it. However, though they have a following on YouTube, life doesn’t seem to give them the breaks, and as the years go on, frustration starts to set in. A chance seem to present itself when they are overheard by a top producer but things are not as simple as they seem, and gradually events start to lead to a rift between the girls..
Rajah is the only security in the mart and with his good friend, Ah Kiaw the handyman, together they keep the mart in check, but recently there has been a series of thefts in the store and Rajah is determined to find the culprit. Though Rajah manages eventually to catch the thief, just as it was with Joey and Jessy, things take an unexpected turn for him and the friendship between Rajah and Ah Kiaw is put to the test.
Nick, a regular shopper at Super Save Mart is a little OCD and prefers minimal contact with other human beings. A livewire, Fiona, comes into his life. Fiona is new to the neighbourhood. On the surface, they seem polar opposites, and at first Nick is put off by Fiona’s hyper personality. But they soon discover that they have more in commonality than they (and especially Nick) initially thought.
Three pairs, three central focus within the drama. When put side by side, the three pairs couldn’t be any more different, yet in their own ways, through a sequence of events, these friends discover what it means to have forgiveness, truth and acceptance. Each pair comes to realize the true value of friendship – and that friendship is indeed priceless.
Producer Cathryn Loh shares that when they were crafting the story of Price Less, the team wanted to answer a couple of questions. ‘What is a friend? Is it someone who thinks of you? Someone who makes you laugh? Maybe it’s the person you love hanging out with. We all have our own idea of what a friend is and I’m sure we’re able to list out a string of traits that a friend has,’ she conveyed.
‘But more than that, I believe all of us want to experience a deeper level of friendship. One that will touch us deeply and move us to tears and even create memories that will forever be etched in our minds. It will be a great deal because we will have experienced something that’s real. Those are the kind of friends we are actually searching for.
‘Through conflicts that drive the story’s characters to their breaking point, we can also see how they dig deep and fight for one another. We can see moments of unexpected kindnesses and times when being a friend can hurt. These points of the story were written to show what it might take to find real friendships. When such moments like these happen, they’re incredibly beautiful!’
‘There is a condition psychologists have described as “lonely crowdedness”,’ shared Timothy Loh, Senior Pastor of Every Nation Church Malaysia. ‘We have many friends on social media but we rarely meet them face-to-face. Instead, we hide behind our busyness and prefer to do things alone because it’s more convenient. It’s a destructive culture.’
Pr Timothy shared that friendship is a deeper thing than sometimes we tend to think it is. It can exist on multiple levels; on a personal level, on a community level, even on a national level. In today’s world, where hatred and divisiveness are so often preached, there is much healing that needs to be done, and this is crucial for the growth of a nation as well of its citizens on a personal as well as a communal level. We need to be able to transcend the barriers of race and religion.
‘We believe that God created us for relationships,’ he conveyed. ‘Friendship begins with God, and He speaks a lot about it. “One another” is a common phrase found in the Bible. In fact, God values relationship so much that He took the step to reconnect with us. Sin separated us from Him but He paid the ultimate price of death so we could have life and a restored “friendship” with Him! We value friendship because God values it. My hope is that Price Less will speak to the hearts of its audience and cause us to evaluate the friendships in our life more intentionally.’
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NOTE: All pictures from the Price Less: A Musical Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pricelessmusical/ Used with the kind permission of Pr Kelvin Lim from One Accord Productions.