Posted: 8/3/18 at 10:50am. Column by Ed Jordan.
Probably one of the most ingenious aspects of Facebook is that Mark Zuckerberg intuited that humans have a great need for friends.
I venture to say that for many of us, it is more important to have friends than to be a friend; but in reality, being a friend to others creates friendships. The truth is that we are creatures created to be in relationship with God and in relationship with other people.
We all need friends who will be a part of our lives and upon whom we can rely when we need someone to stand by us or to help us out.
Who are the people in your life who can be counted on to love you, encourage you, help you, and stand by you?
Who can count on you to stand by them? While many of us may have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, in reality the number of people who will really stand by us in difficult times—and be reliably involved in our lives when needed—is a small number.
Of course friendships come in different qualities and levels of commitment. Sometimes a friendship is very deep, but when the two of you live on different sides of the world, the distance can limit the level of participation in each other’s lives.
For many years we lived in Hungary, learning to be Hungarian, learning the language, the culture, and developing friendships. Cross-cultural friendships are rare and yet very special. We have some wonderful friends in Hungary who invested themselves into our lives for 11 years and allowed us to invest ourselves into their lives.
We have not seen many of them for 15 years. Yet they long to see us again, and we long to see them and spend time with them. Finding the resources to buy plane tickets has just never been possible in our budgets. Yet our friendships are deep and have been long-lasting. Last year some of our friends collected some funds to help us purchase a ticket. We were awestruck and began in earnest to plan a trip back to Hungary. It is going to happen! Friendship is an amazing thing.
As amazing as our friendship is with our friends in Hungary, there is an even a more amazing friendship which we have in our lives.
More than 2,000 years ago, God sent Jesus, his only begotten Son, to Earth to befriend humans who were willing to enter into a relationship with him (John 3:16). Jesus came to love us even though we were sinners and often found ourselves behaving as enemies towards God. We read in Luke 7:34 (ESV): “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”
What an amazing thing! God loves us and wants us to become friends with him, even those of us who are still being hostile towards God (Rom 5:5-8). Jesus is the great befriender, who seeks out those who have isolated themselves, who so desperately need a friend to be there for them in life.
Central to our living of the Christian life is for us to become friends with God, and then reach out and become friends of others as we share with them how our friendship with God has changed us. In John 15:12-14 (The Message), we find our friendship mission: “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you.”
Jesus befriended us and gives us a commitment of friendship so deep that he would die to save us. He did that, literally. He told us that we are to love each other in the same way and to the same degree that he has loved us.
Friendship is more than clicking a digital icon; it is being there for others, respecting them, valuing them, encouraging them, trusting them, laughing with them, and crying with them. It is telling them the truth even when they don’t want to hear it. Jesus does all of this and more for each of us. He wants us to be that for others.
Who needs your commitment in friendship? Who needs someone to sit with them and listen as they pour out their heart? Who needs you to encourage them or to pray for them?
Jesus closed with these words: “You are my friends when you do the things I command you.” Begin developing a new friendship today!