Friends

Life throws people together.
We didn’t get to choose the people we went to school with or played sports with or made music with.  If we grew up in church, we didn’t choose the people in the nursery or the youth group.  Life threw us all together.

But then a mysterious process began to work its wonders.  Some of those people were more interesting than the others.  They were more fun.  They liked the same things we liked.  We selected them to be our friends.  The process was unquestioned and the need for friends was never challenged.  Somehow we just knew we needed to pare down the group to just a very few who would be our friends.  Hopefully the feeling was mutual and the people we selected also selected us.  If not, hurt feelings and jealousies ensued in the nursery, classroom, or youth group.  Groups of friends lined up against each other and cliques (a polite name for “gangs!) formed.

Of course, we all put this childish behavior away when we became responsible adults.

Of course we did.

Friends organize our lives.
We need for our lives to be organized so that the world that greets us each day seems more manageable.  There are more people in the world, in our town, school or church than we can manage so we find a few people to share our lives with.  This is not sin.

Friendship with Jesus
Jesus Himself sanctified friendship by describing our New Covenant relationship with Him as friendship.

John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Oh, we are still His servants, but we do not serve blindly at a distance, knowing only what we need to know to be useful.  He has called us to His side, to hear His heartbeat, to know His thoughts, and to understand as much as we can of His Kingdom.

Amazing!

Solomon draws the distinction between our friends and everyone else in the world.

Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

His Gift of Friendship
Through the ages of Christianity, believers have claimed Jesus as that friend.  And so, indeed, is He.
Part of His gift of friendship to us is a continuing supply of friends.

Life today tears people apart just as easily as it brings them together.

  • Jobs change.
  • Families stretch from coast to coast and even across oceans.
  • Wrenching separations break our hearts as we leave friends behind or are left behind by them.

Even these processes, so new to the world because of modern travel and communications, are in the hands of our Best Friend Forever—King Jesus!  He has new friends for us in the new place He is sending us.  We keep many of our friends over the years because of those same modern communications though miles separate us and we make new ones wherever we go.  They are waiting there for us in the church.  They need friends, too, and are looking for us.  More than life, God puts people together.

Psalm 68:5-6 NKJV
A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families.

It is God’s plan for us to cultivate friends, to pare down an unmanageable world to a small set of people who laugh at the same things we laugh at, enjoy the same interests and amusements, and treasure the same values.

Today is a day to be a friend to someone.  Enjoy the blessings of friendship as our greatest Friend looks on and smiles.

Scriptures:
Proverbs 18:24 NKJV
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 27:9
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.
1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
John 15:9-17
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is no end to my amazement that You have chosen us not just to call us friends be to actually count us as such and deal with us as such. And to compound this blessing, You lead us to friends—brothers and sisters—in the church! You do indeed, set the solitary in families. As Your friend, I am made aware by the Spirit of Your concerns; I see things with Your eyes. I want to be worthy of this confidence. I know I can count on You, Lord, and I want You to be able to count on me. When I am weak, You are the Friend who bears me up. When I am strong, You are the Friend who keeps me in check for any pride in my heart is a barrier between us. “Friendship with Jesus!—O what bliss!” Thank You, Lord Jesus, my Friend! Amen.

Song:
Friendship with Jesus
Words: Joseph C. Ludgate; Music: Stephen Foster

1. A friend of Jesus! Oh, what bliss
That one so weak as I
Should ever have a Friend like this
To lead me to the sky!

Refrain:
Friendship with Jesus!
Fellowship divine!
Oh, what blessed, sweet communion!
Jesus is a Friend of mine.

2. A Friend when other friendships cease,
A Friend when others fail,
A Friend who gives me joy and peace,
A Friend when foes assail!

Refrain

3. A Friend when sickness lays me low,
A Friend when death draws near,
A Friend as through the vale I go,
A Friend to help and cheer!

Refrain

4. A Friend when life’s short race is o’er
A Friend when earth is past,
A Friend to meet on Heaven’s shore,
A Friend when home at last!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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