I love the above quotation, it’s truly special and humbling that Jesus regards us as His friends. However, I’m sure there are times that He rolls his eyes and shakes His head at my fickleness and poor prioritizing, but somehow I think He does it with a loving smile on His lips. You see God Himself invented friendship, after all He is three persons in One. God enjoys fellowship within the Trinity and so should we among our faith family. That is not to say it’s something straightforward, eg: join a church and you instantly make lots of like minded friends. Not in my experience anyway, but my expectations in a church setting are probably too high. God knows how flawed and weak we can be at commitment and that it takes a lot of effort sometimes to develop relationships. Especially as we get older and more settled and perhaps less willing to come out of our comfort zones.
I have definitely made more friends in the areas of work and education than anywhere else in my life. I have school and Uni friends with whom I’m still in regular touch and still see. They are in a way like family because we grew up together and although we have not continued to live close geographically, there is something about shared history that binds us. When we spend time with those who share lots in common with us, friendship comes naturally. I can still remember the second night in my hall of residence in Leeds, having already met lots of students, and a new girl appeared next door who had arrived late. We clicked straight away, sharing a great sense of humour that ensured many fun times over the following three years. There was no effort needed at all, we simply got on and were totally comfortable together. Absolutely nothing you can do will create that, it simply happens, rarely … but it does.
Some friendships last for a season and natural changes of dwelling place, priorities or life events can bring things to an end. Then there are the cross generational friends like a schoolfriend’s Mum who became my friend and mentor as a adult until her sad and untimely death (I still miss her). As I get older I’m finding many new friends among much younger people who are the right age to be sons and daughters, which is lovely as I’m not a biological parent. There is definitely a sense in which God arranges these things, and sends certain people into our lives, I’m so glad He does! With the advent of Facebook we now have virtual friends too. Perhaps in most cases we will never meet and there will be no deep connection, plus it’s difficult to tell just how genuine someone is being (can reinvent yourself online quite easily!) but it can be fun to share news, humour and maybe faith nonetheless. You are never too old (or too young) to make friends, my mother aged 90 made a new friend in an Italian lady she met at a lunch club.
I do value all my friends (especially if they have a sense of humour!) but the icing on the cake has to be when they are friends with Jesus too. Being able to pray with someone else is such a privilege and having a shared worldview and a spiritual connection creates the sense of belonging to a huge family. You can then bring the needs of other people before God and ask Him to help. Which brings me back to the beginning really, as Jesus is actually the greatest friend I’ve got. He won’t leave or get fed up with me, He doesn’t go on holiday or become too busy to get in touch. Instead He promises to be with me always (Matthew 28:20) which has to be the ultimate in friendship.