Friendship: The Most Important, Often Overlooked Relationship in Life
I came across a series of articles written by Kevin DeYoung while studying for a message series on Biblical Friendship. A few years ago he published a three-part series called The Gift of Friendship and the Godliness of Good Friends. The title alone was catchy enough to keep me reading.
Here’s how he opens the first article.
We talk a lot about relationships in the church. There are scores of marriage seminars, retreats, and conferences. There are video series and books for newlyweds and engaged couples. Most every church offers marital counseling and most every pastor preaches somewhat regularly on marriage. And the same is true for parenting. There are dozens of books on raising children. There are Sunday school classes, blog sites, and ministries that focus on the parenting relationship. All this is good.
But have you ever noticed we seldom study friendship? It is the most important-least talked about relationship in the church.
I agree! Friendships are vital to spiritual growth. My faith would have died on the vine years ago if not for other believers walking with me through life. My friends have helped me weather the storms of life both inside and outside of the church. When discouraged, they talked me through the discouragement and helped me find perspective. When sin prevailed they listened to my confession and helped restore me. When angry, they helped me see the unrighteous side of the anger. Without friends, particularly Christian friends I would have floundered in my walk with Christ and in life itself.
Studying friendship from God’s perspective can help us be better friends. It can also help us know what good, Godly friendship is supposed to look like.
The foundation of friendship always starts with God. There are three reasons this is true.
1. God is fundamentally relational.
2. God is the most relational being in the universe.
3. God is the friendliest being to ever exist.
God is the Most Relational Being in the Universe
The whole concept of the trinity is that God is one in substance and three in person. When God finished speaking creation into existence he took extra time with his crown creation, humanity. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God spoke saying “let us make man in our image.” “Us” is plural. Christian’s believe the “us” in this passage is a direct reference to the three persons of the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even God in his essence is a relational unity.
But God’s relational character isn’t reserved for his own being. Because he is fundamentally relational, he expresses his character by being in a relationship with others.
The New Testament author James tells us that Abraham was called a friend of God. God was the initiator and primary mover in that friendship (Genesis 12:1) Exodus 33:11 tells us that Moses used to meet with God as a man meets with a friend.
God is the Best Friend a Person Can Have
John tells us that Jesus took friendship to a whole new level. Jesus let the disciples know that he didn’t see them as servants. He called them friends. His proof of friendship—he shared everything with them, holding nothing back. His words, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) would later find there full meaning when he died on the cross for them and for us.
God Calls Us Friends
The amazing truth that all of us need to know is that God calls us friends. He is, in fact, the model of what friendship is supposed to be like. He is the good, caring, loving, forgiving, restoring, listening, encouraging, helping, saving friend that we all need.
If you want to know what friendship looks like it’s always good to begin with God.
- Do you know God via head knowledge (facts) or as a result of a relationship (intimacy)?
- Jesus said, “I call you friends.” How does this affect your view of what a relationship with Jesus looks like?
- If the foundation of friendship starts with God, how can you be a better friend to your friends?
- Make a list of three friends inside the church and three friends outside the church. Commit to praying for them each day! What can you do to be a better friend to each of them?