A few years ago, someone asked me that question. I mentally reviewed my friends — people who grew up on my street, people I was at school with, university, people I worked with, people I saw at the children’s play dates. I know a lot of people! But trying to think of a friend, a true friend, who walks shoulder to shoulder with me in Christ, who reliably keeps in touch and selflessly keeps on loving me and giving me truth? At that moment in my life, I had one.
To my shame, my list of ‘one’ didn’t even include the Lord Jesus! Since I was asked that question, God’s been taking me on a journey of what it means to HAVE friends and what it means to BE a friend. I’ve found two amazing places for friends:
1) Christ! Jesus himself commented that no one has greater love than
laying down their life for a friend (John 15:13). That is exactly what
he did. I offered nothing, there was no favour I could return, I
couldn’t even bring a pudding, but he kindly saw my need of a Saviour
and met it before I even asked. And then, even better, he has the Holy
Spirit is in my life. The Bible describes him as Comforter (John 14:26),
the Guide, the one who points to the Truth (John 16:13) and who walks
with me every day (Galatians 5:25). The hymn writer was right when he
wrote, “What a friend we have in Jesus!”
2) Church! The church is full of people walking in the same spiritual
direction as me, people who are also aware of their own sin but being
changed to be more holy, like Jesus. I picked up this little book “True
Friendship” (click on true friendship for link) which gives excellent pointers for how to wisely make and keep friends in church, walking shoulder to shoulder. I have read, studied, re-read, bought and given away this book time and time again; I heartily recommend it! It has helped me to be realistic in what I expect of my friends, and what they can expect from me, and is overflowing with biblical wisdom to be blessed and be a blessing.
So. A question to think about over the summer: Who are your friends?