There are many types of friends, and you’ve probably experienced quite a lot of them!
There’s the distant friend you speak to every few years, but still get along with, as if nothing had changed. There’s your best mate who knows everything about you, maybe grew up with you – and you look out for them through thick and thin. There are work friends and commuting friends; those who you get along with at a sports club, or those you see at events at the weekend. If you’re religious (as the term goes!), a lot of your friends may be linked to your place of worship, like a church or synagogue.
These all sound pretty good, but then you get the people you associate with despite all the odds. Maybe you get along after treating one another badly in the past. Perhaps there’s the friend who let you down, but you want to give them another chance. Maybe you had an argument – and you hope the other person will let you make it up.
And sometimes we want to forget our friends. In the Bible, we read about the closeness of friendship, but in the very same Biblical passages, we see how it stings when it goes wrong. Have a look at Proverbs 18!
Perhaps Jesus and Judas felt the “ups and downs” of friendship the most keenly! Everyone knows how that story went. The disciples were chosen men, and close companions, but Judas betrayed Christ.
When we think of the sacrifice of Christ, we also think about the love that he showed. In John 15, especially verses 13 & 14, he talks about the meaning of his mission, and how far he was willing to go.
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.
And unlike the specific categories to which we assign our friends, Christ was willing to give up his life for all those who believe and follow his commandments. Whoever you are – if you follow Christ, he has become a sacrifice to take away the shortfall in your life.
Sometimes we also see that specific people are honoured with Divine friendship in the Bible, with particular characteristics which appealed to God’s heart. We can use these people as inspiration in our own lives.
In James 2:23 (NIV), we read:
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
Whether you have many friends, or just a few close ones, be reassured that there is always the possibility of being friends with God. It takes faith, and it takes commitment, but this is a wonderful opportunity.
Abraham lived a life which was completely changed by the promises of God. He was given the opportunity of a new family which would become a new nation, in a country hundreds of miles from his birthplace. To take up God on these promises, he had to have unwavering trust in what he could not yet see, known as faith.
Being welcomed as a friend is amazing, but being named as God’s friend is truly awe-inspiring. It is not yet possible to see all the benefits of this friendship, but the gifts will be far greater than any you could wish for.