What does “friendship” consist of? Who is, in the real sense, a “friend”? We use the term “friend” casually on face book and in other social relationships. We don’t want to hurt our “friends” yet are very willing to hurt God — Christ as the poor, the dispossessed, the hungry, the homeless. We are willing, for the sake of “friendship,” to do things our conscience tells us bluntly are wrong. We are unwilling to stand on God’s Word if it is not harmonious with beliefs our “friends” hold in common. We are afraid to speak truth to power — the power of opinion, the power of media, the power of a world which Scripture says is opposed to the Suffering God.
James writes: “Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” Are we friends with the world? By “world” neither I nor the Bible mean this planet we live upon, but rather those whose gods are wood, hay, and stubble — Money, Power, Lust, Comfort, Pride. In short, are our “friends” pointing the way to a path downward and away from the hard road of discipleship? Or are they pointing upward, willing even to call us out if our way is self-focused (and therefore self-destructive)? “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” says Proverbs.
Am I a good “friend”? Am I silent in the face of individual and / or corporate sin? Do I “go along to get along” or do I tell the truth? And do I tell the truth in love? As Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Lay down one’s reputation, one’s wealth, one’s sense of belonging, one’s gifts and accomplishments, to become identified with the marginalized — with Jesus Himself? Abraham is called “a friend of God” — a friend because he not only believed, he acted upon belief which in turn proved the belief was real rather than lip service.
Jesus has few friends. I have not always been Jesus’ friend. Yes, to be the friend of Jesus means to be marginalized — don’t fool yourself. “Friends.” My friends are sometimes (in fact more often than they know) those who do the will of God even if not fully aware of that fact, sometimes not even sharing my belief in Christ. My deepest, truest, friends and family? I turn to Matthew’s words (Chapter 12:47-50):
Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
And Proverbs 18:24 also makes this link between friendship, kinship, and loving God:
“Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.”
So again… what does friendship consist of? What does even kinship consist of?
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (John 15:14,15)
Are we Christ’s friends?