Friendship and the Gospel
I am humbled by the fact that my Heavenly Father has given me friendships to enjoy, that he has created me with the capacity to love and be loved by others, that He has not called me to walk on this journey to heaven alone and that through these friendships He has provided strength, unity, and protection for me. The words of Ecclesiastes 4:12 prove true in this regard: “And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
I am learning the greatness of the gift of friends that God has placed in my life. He has graciously given them and continues to use them to comfort me in loss, to reprove me when I’m going astray, to counsel me when unsure of the way to go, to gladden my heart when I am sad, to encourage me in the way of the Lord and to pray for me when I am need. In my eyes, they seem to love me at all times and seem to stick closer than a brother; but their love for me is only a small reflection of the love of an even greater Friend and Brother, Jesus Christ. John Newton captured this idea so well when he penned the following words:
“One there is, above all others,
Well deserves the name of Friend;
His is love beyond a brother’s,
Costly, free, and knows no end:
They who once His kindness prove,
Find it everlasting love!
Which of all our friends to save us,
Could or would have shed their blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled, in Him to God:
This was boundless love indeed!
Jesus is a Friend in need.
O for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length to love;
We, alas! forget too often,
What a Friend we have above:
But when home our souls are brought,
We will love Thee as we ought.”1
Jesus Christ alone has laid down His life for me. There is no greater love than His (John 15:13). Earthly friends will come and go, but Christ will never leave me nor forsake me. Earthly friends only know what I have shared with them. The Lord is intimately acquainted with all my ways. “Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness, [we can] take it to the Lord in prayer!” He alone takes all of our burdens and comforts us wholly with Himself. As the apostle John declared, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)
As believers in union with the Lord Jesus, we have the hope of eternal fellowship with Him in Heaven. As those who have this hope and understand the great love that God has freely lavished upon us, we are responsible to love our friends in such a way that our friendships reflect something of the glory of the friendship that we have with our Savior. Only as we delight ourselves in the Lord and grow in understanding of his love for us will we begin to love God as we ought. And it will not be until we learn to love our God supremely that we will learn how to love our neighbors as ourselves.
We need grace to become the kind of friend that we ourselves want to have (Proverbs 17:17). We have failed, at many times and in many ways, to be the kind of friend that God would have us be. We need the grace of God to forgive us, grace to bring blessing wherever we go (Proverbs 11:25), grace to be humble (Proverbs 11:2, James 4:6), grace to stop criticizing (Proverbs 19:11), grace to consider others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), and grace to listen and understand before expressing our own opinions.(Proverbs 18:2, 13).
As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, and in fellowship with Him, He will make us more like Himself--the best Friend of all. He is the only one that can restore our broken friendships, for at the root of every broken relationship is sin. The good news of the Gospel is that “for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God “(2 Corinthians 5:21).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has so richly blessed us with the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. Jesus, what a friend for sinners! We humble ourselves under your mighty hand. We confess that we don’t have the grace or faith we need to love our friends as we ought. Our sin and our pride keep us from knowing more of the glory of Christ in our friendships. Thank you for being a faithful friend willing and ready to forgive despite our unfaithfulness to you. Savior, Brother, Friend, wrap us in your robes of righteousness. Conform us into your likeness, the likeness of a selfless friend. Lord, use our friendships to glorify your name and expand your Kingdom!
Meghan Reyno is the Children's Ministry Coordinator at New Covenant (PCA) in Richmond Hill, GA.