I meet with a group of fellow ministers once a week. None of us live in the same town so we use a video conference software to communicate. We ask each other such questions as, “Are you hungry, angry, loathsome, tired, and/or stressed?”
I love being able to see their faces. We laugh together. I can see their smiles, their concern – their body language. They know me, love me, and support me even though I am perfectly imperfect. They accept me for me. I can be myself. I really like that.
They have been some of my biggest cheerleaders and encouragers. For a season I felt like a failure. When some people chose to discourage me. When some people tried to impose lower aspirations on me than I had for myself, my friends affirmed my calling. They would not allow the negativity to define my story. They reminded me that God is the only one with the authority to give and affirm my calling – not man.
They pick me up when I fall down and they celebrate with me when I reach a goal. Seeing me achieve makes them happy.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6
They also are close enough to me to help keep my ego in check. In our relationship there is intimacy. Into-Me-They-See. The get real with me, gently and lovingly guiding me to see better pathways when I become prideful. I trust that they have my best interests in mind.
They make it hard for me to not want to be their friend.
Are you that kind of friend?
I want to be for them what they are for me.
Relationships are messy. I should know because I am a mess myself. I am amazed that we can be friends at all considering that I am a sinner and I often get things wrong. Even though we are sinners and relationships are messy God redeems friendships for his purposes. God put my friends in my life to save me from myself. Every week through our companionship I am given a picture of my consummate best friend Jesus.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:9
Jesus came into our dark world as light to give light to everyone. He came into the mess. The only way I know that I can brag on my best friends is because Jesus opened the door and traveled the difficult path to make lasting healthy relationships possible.
There was a time when Jesus’ relationship with God the Father and God the Spirit was shattered when he became sin for us on the cross. He was lifted up alone. Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was rejected as a son so that we could be sons and daughters of God. Jesus was the forsaken friend so that you could be God’s friend.
Jesus is the ultimate friend who paid the ultimate price to give us the ultimate gift. He showed us what it is to be a friend. When we follow Jesus we become his servants yet he chooses to call us friends. He would do anything for his friends and in fact he gave everything to eliminate all barriers to companionship.
He makes it difficult to not want to be his friend.
To keep a friend is to be friend. Learn to be a friend and you will be able to build healthy friendships that last.