The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self – part 7
The biblical text comes alive when the subject of friendship is revealed. As we conclude this blog series on spiritual friendship let me point you to several places in the Scriptures for your prayerful consideration, either alone or with a small group of friends.
- First off, in John 15: 14-15, we discover this stunning desire of Jesus to call his disciples ‘friends’ – he is also known as the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34), showing his affection for all.
- In Exodus 33:11, the Lord expresses intimate friendship with his chosen leader, Moses, speaking with him face-to-face as a friend.
- Human-to-human friendship is displayed between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18 (especially verses 1-3) and in 20: 17, 42. It’s powerful to read how “Jonathan arose and strengthened David’s hand in God” at a great crisis for David (1 Samuel 23: 16-17). In addition, Elijah and Elisha also demonstrate the best of friendship in ministry partnership (2 Kings 2:2).
- The Ruth-and-Naomi model of friendship is also remarkable. Read Ruth 1:16, 17 and throughout the book of Ruth we are encouraged by the faithful friendship embodied between these devoted in-laws.
- Who can forget the four friends who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus Christ in Mark 2:3-4 and how their forthright commitment comes tearing through the roof in hopes of receiving the healing grace of Jesus?
- In Psalm 25:14 we reflect on “the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant” of love. Our adoration of God is out of love and friendship coming first from his heart to ours.
- In Proverbs we delight in a medley of verses: a friend loves at all times (17:17); faithful are the wounds of a friend (27:6); a pleasing friendship is marked by earnest counsel (27:9); he who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend (22:11).
- The Apostle Paul gives us a powerful vision of friendship, inviting us to see our friends like he saw his friends in Thessaloniki (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
- Friendship is also in the context of marital love. Spend time in the Song of Songs and we see this on display in delightful ways (Song of Songs 5:16 and elsewhere).
- Even in the face of suffering and adversity, God brings us images of friendship through God’s dealings with Job and his three friends (Job 2:11 and elsewhere). Facing immense pressure and grave danger, Daniel and his friends, Hanahiah, Mishael, and Azariah show the power of companionship and solidarity of prayer and purpose (Daniel 2: 17-30) and disaster is averted. Friendship is a huge encouragement to all who face adversity.
As you reflect on the passages mentioned above, in what way is God inviting you to lean more fully into friendship with the Lord, more loving friendship with others in your orbit of influence, and even within yourself as a spiritually healthy friend-to-self? The question we posed in the very beginning of this series is the one I want to conclude with as well: How do my initiatives and responses to my friends make Jesus smile?
Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.