“A true friend is someone who you can go for years without talking to, and pick up right where you left off.”
That sounds really nice, and by all means, if you have a friend like this, enjoy! But let’s look at this a little closer, and with some honesty. Aren’t the people that we rarely talk to much easier to get along with? We can kind of idealize those people in our minds… how accepting they are of our choices, how unconditionally they love us. It is easy to feel like these friendships are better than the ones right in front of us. “After all, I rarely get into any disagreements with them, and they never annoy me!” But really, how likely are you to disagree with, or have to confront any issues with someone when you don’t chat regularly? How do you define this kind of friendship? How much iron is really being sharpened? (Proverbs 27:17)
It is usually quite easy to idealize a friendship that doesn’t require much. But what is the point of friendship? “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15. This is how Jesus is defining friendship. The people that he was calling “friends” here were people who would later abandon him! Even deny their ever having known him! Jesus was not saying that his closest buddies were people that made him feel good. What about “get behind me Satan”? Um, awkward. Why would Jesus be friends with such “losers”?
We tend to choose our friends based on those that we “click” with. People that we can laugh with, have stimulating conversation with, or those that share a common interest. Certainly, it must be someone that we are comfortable with at the very minimum. Do you wonder how Jesus chose his friends? Do you think this group of men felt comfortable together? How do you think the others felt when the tax collector joined the group? Did you ever notice how many times the Gospels mention that they were arguing with each other? Do you think it records all of them?
How do you think Jesus chose his friends? “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing…” John 5:19. Did he choose them himself? Or did he allow his Father to choose his friends for him? He sort of got stuck with a sorry lot of friends there at the end, don’t you think? While most of these friends that Jesus was saddled with did not prove to be faithful friends at the cross, the hardship and the forgiveness of Jesus made these men stick together like glue, and they came to respect each other after having experienced a very hard time together. Indeed, these friends changed the world… together.
How do you choose your friends? What if all the crazy people that seem to annoy you in your life, dare I say, in your church, are put there by God for a glorious purpose? Rather than idealizing something that seems easy, let’s really work at the friendships that are before us. Let’s forgive, serve, love, and share “everything that I learned from my Father” with one another.