Who Is Your Friend?

The value of friendships has been wonderfully impressed upon me lately. Will you allow me to share some Scriptural words about friendship as a crucial part of our walk with Christ, and to give personal testimony from recent weeks?

Just before our cruise in July we spent two days with long-time friends Bert and Alice. We sailed from Seattle and intentionally went early to see them. We remembered, walked, talked, laughed, talked some more, and ate lots of good food together. What hosts they are!

Bert is a long-term friend-mentor. I don’t say that lightly. Through decades of both wonderful and dark days of ministry preparation and actual service, Bert has been a reliable presence. Always available, it is amazing how he also has “just called” at crucial times when I needed encouragement. I learned much about how to teach and preach over bear claws and coffee with him—and have a souvenir mug from our hideout. A prominent ministry leader, he has drawn me into his world with a hospitable heart, confidence in me, and words of wisdom. Distance hasn’t stopped us.

Certainly, of Bert it can be said, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:9).

Bill and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary of friendship over breakfast last week. Bill came into my life at a challenging time and he has stuck by me no matter what. We have differences, but nothing gets in the way of our friendship. When we are together we talk about family, culture, the Bible, theology, health, and getting-older men stuff. I don’t know many people that have modeled a servant heart and love for Jesus before me than Bill. You should hear him pray!

Of Bill I think of Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times…”

We need friends and they need us. Yes, it takes work and intentionality. But friendship is an investment, not a liability. Singles have a unique and wonderful opportunity to pour themselves into their friends. Married folks have the privilege of experiencing the deepest level of friendship’s intimacy, trust, security, and joy as they grow together into the image of Christ. I confess to not realizing this about Cheryl for too long.

Here is an astounding reality: Our earthbound friendships mirror what Father and Son have said is our reality when we travel close to them. Abraham was called a friend of God. Can God say this about you or me? Jesus Christ said of His disciples, “I no longer call you my servants”—a statement of status, not a negation of love’s sacrifice—“but now I call you my friends” (John 15:11). Does our view of God see Him as trying to catch us in sin to inflict punishment? Does our view of the Father and Son include the intimacy and trust and security and joy of friendship?

So, have breakfast with or contact a friend. Celebrate them as God’s gift to you—because they are.

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