A true friend is a great blessing.
Someone who “gets” you.
Someone who knows your weaknesses and failures, and loves you anyway.
Someone who is easy to be around.
Someone who enjoys the same activities and conversations.
Perhaps Proverbs captures it best: A friend loves at all times. (17.17)
And in Christian friendship, we have an added benefit of being able to have our faith challenged and grown in a unique way. C. S. Lewis speaks of the God-agenda behind friendship in his book, The Four Loves:
“…friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”
God uses Christ-honouring friendship to spur us on in our faith. We are better people, better followers, if we have Jesus-loving friends in our lives.
But friendship is not limited to Christians. Non-believers seek and and form deep friendships as well. Recently, I was struck by a new testament friendship that was formed by two unlikely candidates—actually, two former enemies.
And in this case, it is disdain for Jesus, rather than love for Him, that seems to be a powerful glue. Take a look:
And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.
Isn’t that interesting? Previous enemies became friends, because they realised they both shared contempt for Jesus.
Jesus has that kind of power with people. He can bond friends together closer than you ever dreamed, and he can force unlikely enemies to be bonded over their shared “disdain” for faith.
Your common love of Jesus will bond you close, and for non-believers, they will be bound close to others who share a similar lack of love for Jesus.
It’s why Jesus tells us to be “equally yoked” in marriage (only date/marry another Christian).
It’s why Jesus says His presence will divide families, “two against three and three against two”. (Luke 12.52)
Faith can really unite and faith can deeply divide.
Understanding the power of friendship makes this statement from Jesus even more powerful:
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends. John 15.15
I am a friend of Jesus, and if you have trusted in Christ as your Saviour, then you are his friend too. And that friendship will be powerful to transform us and unite us in amazing ways.
Let’s prioritise our Christ-honouring friendships and allow God to use them to grow our faith deeper.