An Observation About Friendship

Once a month Cath and I are privileged to meet with residents of a local nursing home. We are known as the ‘Protestant Service.’ Cath plays piano, we sing and I take a few minutes to open God’s Word and share the gospel with our friends there. They seem to like us a lot. For one reason really, we simply keep coming back! If only all of our friends were so easy to please! This past Sunday, I opened with a question, ‘Does anybody here remember if they had a special friend as a child?’ To my surprise, almost every hand went up immediately. Not only that, but they remembered names going back 85+ years, in some cases. Everyone, whom I called on, could without a moment’s hesitation, state that name. One sweet lady said that she, to this very day, has kept up a correspondence with her special friend from childhood! Friendship is a special thing, so special in fact, that Jesus talked about it pointedly in John 15. Before you look it up, let me ask you a question, “What is the main identifying mark of friendship according to Jesus?” “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” John 15: 15-17 Strange is it not, that the mark of friendship, according to Jesus, is that friends know each other, know stuff about each other. Think of David and Jonathan, their friendship was rooted in a relationship of absolute trust and bore fruit in a shared understanding and shared loyalty. It is even stranger I think, that the Creator of the universe commands a relationship of friendship with his sinful, fallen creatures who would be utterly lost but for his own death and resurrection. The friendship spoken of by Jesus will drive us to our knees and raise up our heads at the same time…….. praise the Lord! Finally, when I consider the gravity and meaning of this kind of friendship, I feel like one of my daughters who is learning Swahili, and has occasion to use this Kenyan phrase often, “ninajifunza kiswahili, lakina nonaopgea kama mtoto mdogo”…….. meaning of course, “ I am learning Swahili, but I speak like a small child.” So it is for me when I consider what a friend we have in Jesus.