In a world dominated by “likes” and “follows,” true friendship is a gift. So much in our world works against forming deep friendships–busy schedules, geographical distances and the replacement of face-to-face encounters with online interaction. According to a new report by renowned British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, despite our extremely connected lives, we’re fortunate if we are able to maintain five close friendships.* Yet our Christian journey is meant to be traveled with others. We are created to pursue God in the company of other people. Eccl. 4:9-10 (NIV) says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
When examining our friendships, Christ should be our example. Jesus purposefully surrounded Himself with 12 disciples who—while not perfect—were committed to learning the will of God. He ate with His friends (Matt. 9:10, Mark 2:13-17), prayed for His friends (John 17:6-26) and asked for their support during His greatest trial (Matt. 26:36-46). When Jesus talked about friendship, He said, “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV).
Does Jesus confide in you?
Jesus called His disciples friends rather than servants because He entrusted them with everything He was told by His father. He trusted the disciples to use this information for the good of His Father’s kingdom. We often refer to Jesus as our friend because we confide in Him and trust Him. But have you ever considered that Jesus confides in you and trusts you to use the information for the good of His Father’s kingdom?
We take it for granted that Jesus is our friend, but do we listen to Him? Do we want to know what is on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what is on our hearts? To be a friend of Jesus, we need to listen to what He wants us to know and then use the information to bring others into friendship with Him.
A true friend doesn’t care if you’re broke, upset, what you weigh, if your house is a mess or if your family is filled with crazy people. They love you for who you are. But sometimes relationships become strained. A line from Beaches, a 1980s film about friendship and reconciliation, is “I don’t even remember what it was I was mad about, and I don’t care. Whatever it was that you did, I forgive you.” Hurt inevitably occurs in close relationships, but so does forgiveness.
Remember that the best example of a true friend is Christ. He will always forgive and lead you closer to Himself!