Quotes about friendship are everywhere – embroidered on pillows, painted on cute little wall plaques, on thousands of refrigerator magnets and bookmarks, and all over Facebook.
Relationships and friendships are a big part of our lives. Whether you have many friends or just a few, we all know at least a few people and friendship and relationships are one of the biggest parts of our experience of life everyday. In some way, whether big or small, every person we interact with has an impact on our life and we have an impact on his or hers. Some of the most important relationships we can have – and the ones that can be most life changing are those with other brothers and sisters in Christ. When I talk about friendship in the rest of this article, I am referring to friendships with other believers in Jesus, particularly our sisters in Christ. Other relationships are very important, but these are the friendships we will focus on here.
Because of the gospel, you and I can be genuine, real, and honest in our friendships. You may have heard the saying “everything is level at the foot of the Cross.” This means that every believer comes to Jesus exactly the same way – with absolutely nothing to give to Christ to help earn or deserve salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9) In fact, if you are a believer you came to the Cross as an enemy of God because of your sin. (Romans 5:8, 10) All that we have in Jesus – salvation, righteousness, and sanctification – is because of His grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 2:13) This is something that is very helpful for us to remember as we interact with other believers. We do not need to pretend to be better than we actually are because we have all been recipients of the same wonderful grace of Jesus. We can be real, genuine, and transparent because we have both received the same undeserved love from Jesus. This will also help us to be patient with the ways that He is still working in the lives of our friends – we can “bear all things” (as we are told to do in 1 Corinthians 13) and forgive (as we are told to do in Matthew 18:21-35) because we know the love, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus in our own lives.
It is also for this reason that we can be faithful to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Jesus has blessed us with the gift of friendships and it is so important that we use them to build one another up (Romans 14:19) and bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) It is wonderful to have fun (even silly!) times together as friends, but it is so precious to have those times when we can encourage and bless one another using the Truth of Bible. This may mean that we share a verse with a friend who we know is struggling with discouragement or suffering of some kind. It might mean that we pray for and with our friend. It may mean that we lovingly remind our friend of what the Bible instructs and encourage them as they apply that instruction to their life. Sometimes it just means listening to a friend and crying or laughing with them. (Romans 12:15)
I have a dear friend and our friendship is just like this. I don’t see her terribly often but when I do, we have such wonderful times of fellowship sharing the Truths of Jesus with each other and catching up on life! We can be totally honest about where we are struggling (for example, I recently told her that I was having a tough time just living daily in the promises of the Bible I know are true and trusting Jesus) and the things Jesus is showing us through His word and how He is encouraging us to grow. When we aren’t together, we like to send little messages with prayer requests, Bible verses, or just “I’m thinking of you” notes. We pray for each other and encourage each other to daily seek and walk with Jesus.
No one is meant to live the Christian life alone and it is a treasure to share the journey of following Jesus with precious friends. They help us keep walking in the right path, and can be the strength and support we need during tough times. But, remember, life-changing meaningful friendships are not possible without Jesus. We must first know Him as our savior and have experienced His grace in our own lives. It is also very important to remember That is a longing that can be filled only by Jesus Himself. (John 6:35) It is so important and good to have human relationships built on Christ, but people (even believers) are still human and will fail us in some way or another. Through the gospel, Jesus gives us power to forgive when that happens, and offers Himself alone to be the perfect friend who will never ever fail. (Hebrews 13:5, 1 Corinthians 1:9, Psalm 9:10)that no friend, no matter how much they love Jesus and point us to Him, can ultimately make us happy or satisfied.