Deep friendship, God-ordained friendships, means sharing each other’s stories with one another. At least, that is what I see in three examples in scripture. The first example being Jesus and His disciples. The second example being Paul and his friends Timothy and others. The third example comes from the Old Testament, and it is the story of David and Jonathan.
Jesus and His disciples spent hours together, walking and talking. Jesus taught, the disciples listened. But I believe that Jesus also listened while the disciples talked–telling Him their stories, asking Him questions about the things He was teaching. In fact we see that in scripture as the disciples ask Jesus to explain the parables. Jesus loved His disciples enough to pray for them, knowing that His death and the things to come were going to be very difficult for each of them. Even Judas, who betrayed Him, Jesus referred to as friend.
Paul spent days with his friends, traveling on his journeys to spread the gospel and to encourage the new churches. Along those trips, I wonder how many times did they marvel together over what God had done, by appearing to Paul, by blinding him, by completely and utterly changing his life from that of a chief persecutor of the Christians, to one of the most influential Christians of all time? His life was a story that started off tragic, but God in His sovereignty completely turned it around. But I imagine the Paul listened as well….we know he listened to his friends in the churches. We know he must have listened to Timothy and John Mark.
However, the tragic disagreement between Barnabas and Timothy may have led them to never speak again. We don’t know that for sure, hopefully their relationship was repaired, because obviously they were deep friends. Some would probably disagree with me, but I wonder if the blame didn’t lie with Paul, even though we all recognize what an amazing man he was. He was the spiritual leader, therefore he carried a weighty burden of responsibility.
David and Jonathan is a beautiful story of brotherly friendship. Jonathan was the son of King Saul. David was anointed to be the next king. King Saul by this time had gone a bit mad. He was determined to kill David, even though David had served him faithfully for years. Jonathan, in spite of being the king’s son, saved David’s life from King Saul. Their friendship held fast throughout all the trials they were sent through. They had strong brotherly love for each other. Neither one betrayed the other.
I just spent the 4th of July evening with good friends. Good food, good fun, good conversation. Tonight I’m missing friends from around the world, from Kenya to Hawaii.
John 15:13 states:
These are Jesus words. And what’s even more amazing, is that He calls us friends. He is the one true friend, who will never abandon, will never betray. Who not only knows your story, but sees and knows your soul, and loves us in spite of ourselves.
I am fortunate to have been blessed with many wonderful friends. But would I really lay down my life for my friends? I know I would lay down my life for my children. But I want to be the kind of friend that would also lay down my life for my friends, because of my love for them. That kind of love can only come from me, a sinful, failing human, if it is Christ’s love that I love my friends with. True love and friendship. If friendship is real, it is sacred like our stories are sacred.
I am thankful for my friends tonight. And I am thankful for my friend Jesus, who will never leave me nor forsake me.