In His instruction to His disciples, Jesus told them what it means to be a friend. We find this in John 15:14-17: "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 to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other." What an honor and privilege to be called a friend by Jesus Christ. However, we must never take this for granted. We are His friends when we come to believe that He is the way, the truth and the life. Once we have made that commitment, we must follow what He has instructed us to do...love one another and live the way He has told us to in His Word.
|Long time friend Julie who came to visit|
Secondly, a good friend is someone who loves us "warts and all". Jesus loved us that way. In fact, He loved us so much that He died in our place on the cross. How can we then pick on another person's imperfections when God has forgiven us so much at such a high cost? Besides, Jesus told us that if we loved one another it would demonstrate to the world that we are Christians. The world system by contrast is marked by hatred, greed, envy, and strife. On top of all this, friendships in the world are rarely deep or lasting. Instead they are formed as a matter of convenience or control. I believe that deep in our hearts is a desire for true and lasting friends who will not betray us. We have that in Jesus Christ. His love for us sets an example of how we are to love one another. So how do we flesh this out?
I know in my own life, I have not always been the best friend I could be. There are times when I have not extended myself to others as I ought to or phoned them just to check on how they are doing. It is little things like this that make us a good friend. I believe that between brothers and sisters in Christ this is so important because it acts like a framework of accountability. We are to laugh, cry, pray and care for one another. If the friendship is rich, it usually works out that when one is down the other is up. That is why we need one another. We were made for relationship.
Perhaps one of the greatest and yet most difficult parts of being a friend is telling another person the truth in love. We hear that term a lot, but really do not know what it means. It does not mean attacking another person but rather, it means being willing to sacrifice self and tell someone the truth knowing that they might reject us. Jesus did that many times. He told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more." This is one of the hardest things we ever have to face with our friends or even our family, but if we never tell someone they are about to fall in a pit, we will be sorry when they are injured. Proverbs says: "The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Proverbs 27:6). I would rather have a friend wound me with the truth for my soul's sake than to tell me lies to tickle my ears and lead to my destruction.
Jesus was a perfect friend. He sticks closer than a brother, and shows us, by laying down His life for us, what real relationship is all about. As believers, how do you treat your friends? Are you willing to take time to talk to them, pray for them and reach out to them? If ever the world needed something now...it is genuine friendship and love that Christians have to offer. Be a friend to someone today. Selah!