I spoke on the topic of friendship more than ten years ago at The Healing Rooms. I recently heard someone speak on an important point in my message. I was bothered by that person’s view of the Jonathan and David relationship in 1 Samuel, so I decided to address the topic of friendship again. It’s sorely needed today.
A friend is a person attached by feelings of affection or personal regard. One who is on good terms. Not hostile. A supporter. One who gives assistance. One who is a companion, a helper, confidant, benevolent, trusting, faithful, trustworthy and seeks peace rather than discord. One cannot be trusting if they are not trustworthy. This sounds like an overview of Philippians 4. So, think on these things. We must all set an example, be it in our homes, workplace and especially our church.
Jesus said in John 15, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” He laid before His disciples a new pattern of friendship to follow. Trust and sharing. Giving of oneself, even knowing they would fail Him. And He went a step further in that He told His disciples “This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” This would even entail laying down one’s life for his friends. The friendship this love required is a friendship of spiritual purity. We are to imitate Him. In 1 John 4, we see we love God because He first loved us. If you cannot love your brother, if you cannot maintain a healthy friendship, then how can you love God who commanded us to show this love and friendship. And it must be demonstrated not just by words, but by our actions.
1 Peter 3 says we are to be of one mind, having compassion for one another and to be tenderhearted and courteous. Not reviling or overly critical or looking to pay evil for evil. By doing these things, no matter how tough it may seem, we inherit a blessing. We make the mistake of believing that by being part of a church, all will automatically be fine. But we are often walking into systems and schedules. Man-made hierarchies. Where do we fit in? Needs are not always met and we lose sight of the individuals. We cannot lose sight of doing our individual part in developing and maintaining friendships in the body of Christ. Jesus never lost sight of this. He didn’t get lost in the shuffle. He was a friend to all. The tax collector. The woman by the well. The leper. To all shunned by the church. They said He was a friend of the worst sort of sinners. Wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it.Christ showed that.
A foreshadowing of Jesus’ love for His disciples and the church was seen in the friendship of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel. Jonathan recognized the call of God on David’s life and made a covenant with him. By doing this, he was also relinquishing any assumed right to the throne from his father Saul. He willingly took off his robe, along with his armor, sword, bow and belt, and gave it to David. This not only showed his friendship, but it showed Jonathan laid himself bare before his friend. Nothing hidden. No envy or self-seeking. Only true friendship and sacrifice. He put his life on the line knowing his father Saul would disapprove and maybe kill him. He feared God more than man. So many in ministry today would rather hold onto their positions rather than equip the saints, especially if it might mean they will be ‘seen’ less. Lose the spotlight. No words were more telling of Jesus’ love for His disciples than David speaking of his love for Jonathan after Jonathan’s death. He said, “Your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women.” There is a connection made with true friendship that is hard to properly articulate, but David managed to voice more than words.
Friendship does not shy from adversity. Jesus said in Luke 12:8, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of man also will confess before the angels of God.” He said this knowing that He would be betrayed. Peter said he’d die for Him. Our natural self speaks, but our inner spiritual self can only answer when put to the test. Many have emotional love. It touches our natural self. But it doesn’t penetrate the spirit of a person. Jesus’ love and friendship was manifested by His actions. Jesus said we can show no greater love than laying down our lives for our friends. It’s much easier to die than to lay down your life. Especially day in and day out. We do this when we take up our cross. Our natural desires cannot attain this level of love and friendship. It is based on a new life He creates in us. We become a new creation. Jesus is the blueprint for establishing and maintaining friendship and it’s devoid of selfish desires or our own reasoning. A friend loves at all times. In order to show God’s love to others and be a friend, we must be in right relationship with Him. The Message Bible says “God friendship is for God worshippers. They are the ones He confides in. Like with Abraham and Moses. God called them friends. I realize that’s a pretty high bar, but we must endeavor to establish all friendships based on His model. Oswald Chambers said, “We must never allow anything to damage our relationship with God, but if something does damage it, we must take the time to make it right again. The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influences and qualities produced by that relationship.” We are representatives of Him wherever we go and in all we do. Our world today lacks so much of what is required of us in showing a Christlike character. So many are at odds and contention abounds. And sadly, we seem to easily follow and become entangled with things that just sow discord. In so doing, we also damage our personal walk with God. I refuse to hear certain nastiness said by some and believe they represent Christ. Especially from the pulpit. As I’ve said many times, walk away from them. We must pursue what is good for yourself and others. Be patient with one another. Pursue what is good. Serve one another. One too often takes what is a gift for granted with friendship. As seen in John 21 after Jesus’ resurrection, He appears to them while they are fishing. They have lost hope. He fixes them breakfast. Not one of the disciples said a word. They knew it was the Lord, but said nothing. Not forgive us, not I love you. Jesus had already said to Mary Magdalene to tell His disciples…and Peter that he would see them. Only forgiveness and love. So, Jesus reminds them to “Follow Him and to feed His sheep.” He’s saying those same words to us. Love one another as I loved you. I call you friend. We must grasp that true friendship is a rarity that must be treasured. Avoid contentions and division. Be kind to one another. Forgive one another just as Christ forgave you. Serve one another and have fervent love for one another. If we say we house the Holy Spirit, we must also walk in the Spirit. Do all things as unto Him. By this, you will cultivate a garden that allows friendship to grow. Blessings.