We all need friends. We need people we can trust, people we can rely on, people we can laugh and cry with, and people we can go to when life is crumbling. I heard this week that 25 years ago the average person in America had 3 close friends, which is about what we need to feel happy, content, and supported. Today, that number is 1.5. Even though we live in a very “connected” world, we are increasingly disconnected from our friends.
But, what is a friend? Is it just someone you grab a drink with when you’re bored? Is it the person you call when you don’t want to go to the movies alone? Is it everyone included on your Facebook “friends” list? Is it the shoulder you cry on? Or, is it something more?
Some of us have more friends than others. But, all of us have a friend named Jesus. What exactly does that mean though? What does it mean to have Jesus as a friend when we can’t exactly call Him up to go to the movies or grab dinner or stop by His apartment when we need someone to give us advice? So, how is it that Jesus is our friend?
Well, the basis of our friendship with Jesus is love. Not a mushy, romantic, or esoteric love – but a sacrificial, tangible, down-to-earth love. Jesus has shown us love (and friendship) as He ate with prostitutes, called tax-collectors into His inner-circle, received blessings from humble women, and welcomed little children into His arms when others tried to keep them away. Jesus showed us true love when He died for gossipers, liars, murderers, adulterers, addicts, and abusers: for all of us. That’s what friendship looks like.
And so, that’s how we are called to live. We are called to live with the same kind of sacrificial love. Parents sacrifice their time to sit up with crying babies. Spouses sacrifice their egos as they stop demanding to get things their way. Employees sacrifice their pride as they sacrifice their power and control and lift-up the newbie. We are all called to sacrifice our money for the poor, our time as we sit with a grieving friend, or our energy as we volunteer and give back.
That’s what friendship looks like. That’s what it means to be a friend of Jesus. A friend of Jesus is simply someone who has been extravagantly and sacrificially loved. It means that God chose us even though we didn’t choose Him (John 15:16). It means that God doesn’t consider us servants – just slaves who mindlessly do God’s bidding – but beloved Sons and Daughters (John 15:15). To be God’s friend is to be loved by Him.
And, to be God’s friend, is to love Him and others in the same way. Friendship is so much more than the person you send funny text-messages to or the people you follow on Instagram. Friendship is what you have with the God who loves you and the people He has placed around you to love.
So, how many friends do you have? Whatever number you come up with, make sure to add one more. His name, is Jesus.
To read more, check out my book “Growing Up: In, With, and Under Jesus” on Amazon