When I first became a Christian every time I would read that God had called us as His friends I would find it hard not to get teary-eyed. Whoops – there I go again, having to wipe away tears at the thought of being His friend. Friendship is different than family. Harper Lee, in the book To Kill A Mockingbird, wrote “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.” That’s why friendship is different than family. You love your family. Family knows you and loves you and fights with you and . . . well, they’re family and they’ll love you no matter what (that’s also why friendship is less than family. Friends are your “peeps.” And you my beloved readers, are my “peeps.”
But friends, well, finding good friends is hard. That’s why I would cry at the mention of Jesus wanting to be my friend. Because it meant He truly valued ME. And maybe, because at this time I didn’t value myself. Aristotle defined friendship by saying “What is a friend? A single soul, dwelling in two bodies.” I’m not getting so esoterical as to take that for the only definition, because friends come to you at different stages of your life. And so many earthly friendships wax and wan, like the inconstant moon.
Jesus wanted to be my friend. I had always thought of myself as a good friend, but I’d always been let down by ALL my friends. This is what Jesus said about friendship in John 15:13-17 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. 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. This is my command: Love each other.”
So when I would read that Jesus wanted to be my friend, that was big. God says that loving others is how we show that we love Him. So what is love? “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor. 4:4-8a)
“True friendship is perhaps the only relation that survives the trials and tribulations of time and remains unconditional. A unique blend of affection, loyalty, love, respect, trust and loads of fun is perhaps what describes the true meaning of friendship. Similar interests, mutual respect and strong attachment with each other are what friends share between each other. These are just the general traits of a friendship. To experience what is friendship, one must have true friends, who are indeed rare treasures. Friendship is a feeling of comfort and emotional safety with a person. It is when you do not have to weigh your thoughts and measure words, before saying it to your friend. It is when someone knows you better than yourself and rushes to be at your side in every emotional crisis. It is when you can go to sleep fighting and get up the next morning with a better understanding of the other’s point of view. Friendship is eternal.” (some editing but the majority is from: http://festivals.iloveindia.com/friendship-day/friendship-meaning.html)
I have come to realize that friends aren’t perfect (and neither are our families). The only perfect friendship is that of God toward us – because we often fail at our friendship to God. Our earthly friends and family will always let us down and if we expect differently, we will go through life not trusting. That does not mean you allow toxic people into your life, that just means that overall good friends can really let you down and hurt you. But Jesus won’t. Jesus will never let you down. He truly laid down His life for you. Now today, we are called to lay down our lives for Him. We probably won’t be called to literally die for Him, but we are called to live for Him. That’s why He says we are to be willing to die for Him, because we are to die to our flesh. Romans 8:13 (Amplified) says “For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever.”
James 2;22-23 says “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God.” So we are called to obey Him, not to simply profess love for Him with our mouth and words, but also in our actions and deeds.
How do we show our friendship with God. For each person we are called to do different things because we are all given different gifts. But I’m going to write a few things down. Feel free to think of your own.
Feed the poor, visit those in the hospital and prisons. Matthew 25:34-45 says “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clotheYou? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” That does not always mean literally, but when you see someone begging on the highway and turn away, even though your heart is crying to help, you have declined to be the friend of Jesus. When your neighbor is sick and you know you should take her some soup and you think you’re too busy, guess what? Your friendship is being disloyal. That’s right. We have opportunities everyday to show our friendship to the best friend we will ever have, and we blow. We turn our back on our friend.
So, the next time you’re earthly friend lets you down and you are so righteously indignant that you have been mistreated STOP and ask yourself how you’ve hurt you’re best friend. The next time someone lets you down, remember we are human, and we all let one another down. You let people down and they let people down. God called Abraham his friend, but look how Abraham let God down. He lied about Sarah being his wife twice. He had his first son with a concubine because he didn’t trust God to keep his promise to give him a son. So God isn’t going for perfection when He calls us friends, just trial and error. Can we expect any less from our friends? And shouldn’t we try a little harder today to be a good friend to God?