Do you have a real friend? Someone who’s been there for a long time? Someone who listens to your concerns, cares, and complaints and never repeats them to others? One who will pray with you for whatever? Someone who will tell you “like it is” while “keeping it real”? Someone who knows all about you and still likes you, even when you “mess up”? If you have such a person in your life, treasure them.
There is a longing in our souls placed there by God for acceptance and value, and to be treasured as “special.” Ultimately our soul is satisfied when we allow Him to meet our deepest longings. We learn a little bit about this in our earthly friendships.
Jesus calls us into a special, spiritual friendship. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you . . . I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:13-15).
Jesus elevated His disciples to friends because they accepted Him as Lord and followed His teaching. Their relationship went from Master and servants to friends not only because they accepted His teaching—they opened their hearts to Him—but because He shared in His teaching what the Father had given Him.
I used to think that all friendships were equal. Not anymore. Someone said, “Some people come into our lives for a reason, others for a season, and some for a lifetime.” In other words, some friends are sent into our lives to fulfill a certain purpose or to walk life’s road with us for a while. Still others are given for a lifetime.
Without a doubt Jesus is our BFF—best friend forever. He is described in Proverbs 18:24: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Friendliness begets friends, and friendships need nurturing like plants. Without nutrients, friendships, like plants, will wither and die. Friendships need the air of time, water of communication, sunshine of forgiveness, and more. How do we nurture our friendship with Jesus? Well, we don’t do it. He does it all. The one small part that we supply is to accept Him and stop rejecting Him. By spending time with Him in the Bible and in prayer, we enter a friendship that is “out of this world.”
You may wonder how I can declare that Jesus’ friendship is so strong. First, remember that in Christ God became man, a mystery that we cannot figure out, but a fact that we must accept by faith. Next, look to the cross of Calvary. Jesus shows His friendliness to us by taking our sins and bearing them to the cross, becoming sin for us. Well, you say, that is good, but “what has He done for me lately?”
No matter what your situation is, He is there for you, through thick and thin. You may be in prison for some crime, convicted of something you did, or maybe you are there innocently—unjustly convicted. Yet Jesus still cares for you and is there with you through His Holy Spirit. He won’t abandon us when we are guilty as charged.
Maybe you have gone through a foreclosure and the embarrassment of bankruptcy; Jesus is still there through it all. Maybe you have gone through a bitter divorce, or maybe that man impregnated you and now denies his fatherhood, and you feel abandoned and alone. Jesus stands with you, not embarrassed to call you His child before the Father in heaven. Jesus never has, and never will, abandon you. Maybe you are fighting your own “war on drugs”—losing battle after battle. You may lose a battle, but with Jesus on your side you can win the war! Your continual failures to get clean of drugs and alcohol abuse will not break the bonds of Jesus’ friendship. He doesn’t approve of our wrong choices, but through it all He is committed to reaching out to us as a friend.
If our best earthly friends forsake us Jesus is always there. He will keep our secrets “secret” and not “blab” them all over the place. Not only that, He is available “24/7”; there are no answering machines or voice mail in His house. He takes the call personally whenever and however it comes. He will never delete your e-mails, or text messages, or ignore your telephone calls as some friends do. He wants to hear from you. Your biological brother may “put you down.” Not Jesus! He is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
There is no greater friend than Jesus. No wonder the songwriter said, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”
This article originally appeared in the Message Magazine in the 2012 issue.