There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24 NLT
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. -John 15:9-16 NLT
Jesus is the greatest friend we could ever have. He even went to the depths of proving this by laying down his life on the cross. Abraham, Enoch, Moses and David were just a few examples of men who were friends of God. What made them friends? They listened and obeyed God. They spent time in His presence and conversed with him. Enoch even walked right into heaven without dying, he was that close to God! “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Genesis 5:23-24).
When Jesus was on this earth, he had male and female friends. Think of people like Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the disciples, etc. He spent time with them, sharing in fellowship over meals, listening to them about their lives and their families, rejoicing when they rejoiced and weeping when they suffered loss (John 11:35). Jesus calls us friends as well. He desires to tell us what is on his heart. He wants us to spend time with him in his presence. He also wants us to love others as he loves them.
But what about when life is hard, people hurt us, illness floors us, and we just feel completely alone? Have you ever asked why life is so difficult and if Jesus really does love you? Remember the story of Lazarus. Though Mary and Martha told Jesus that their brother was ill and could die, Jesus still stayed ministering in another town. He did not return until 2 days later and Lazarus was in the tomb dead. Martha said to Jesus if he had come earlier, Lazarus would not be dead but she trusted Jesus regardless. Of course, we know the rest of the story- Lazarus was raised from the dead.
Sometimes we feel as if Jesus doesn’t care and he has abandoned us. We forget that he indeed is in control and he still is our friend. How do we embrace a friendship with Jesus as God? We spend time in his presence, we keep praying, we keep trusting and believing. Remember the end of the story for Lazarus- something greater usually comes out of difficult times. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not ours. Allow Jesus to be your friend. Tell him everything- your joys, your frustrations, your anger, and your unbelief’s. He knows already but he wants you to talk to him. And he wants you to listen. Jesus came to make it possible for us to be friends with him (not just for the priests). Can you say today “I am a friend of God?”
Jesus, my dearest friend, I thank you for paving the way for friendship with me. It amazes me that I am able to be a friend of God. I admit there are times I struggle believing that you are indeed a friend because life gets messy and sometimes lonely. Earthly friends hurt me and trust is hard. You never fail me, you never leave nor forsake me, you even loved me so much that you laid down your life for me on the cross. I cannot even begin to comprehend such love, such grace, such a great friendship. I desire to know more of you, to spend more time in your presence, more time sharing my heart and listening to yours. Today, help me to be a better friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For further study:
Exodus 33:7-11; Proverbs 17:17, 27:9: John 1:1-44; James 4:4-10