So it’s friendship day today… Here I am in India and it’s a big thing here… Being tagged on FB post, wishes on statuses.. exchanging of friendship bracelets that say “F R I E N D S”, major events organised – pool parties, programs for friends to get together filled with games, skits and loud music…. etc etc. It is relieving though to see a personal message sent occasionally.
It just goes to show what the world has made out of friendship today! At least it’s a good thing that a day is marked out of the year to remind people of the concept of friendship! It is indeed a nice thing and a good thing to hang out with friends and have fun.
However, it is sad that friendship has taken up a definition of friends getting together and doing things… filled with noise and activity. Sadly Christian Camps are no different. Games are there for interaction, I suppose to break the ice. However, the schedules of all these programs are so filled that there is hardly any time for people to communicate with each other, let alone to get to know others.
So yes, if you are tagged or if you are ‘branded’ with a friendship bracelet, then you are a friend… Or if you are a friend on FB, and a status is put for all friends (that means all on FB), then you are a friend. Well isn’t that what we all are on FB, “FRIENDS”! Actually, FB recognises the difference and gives you options to categorise, “friends, acquaintances, colleagues etc”.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “FRIEND” as following:
while it defines “ACQUAINTANCE” as follows:
As followers of Christ, what should our definitions of friends be? We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves… Does Jesus discriminate this definition as in that you should love a particular set of people and not love another set of people where all these people are in your life? In fact Jesus even calls us to love our ENEMIES (Matthew 5:44)! Now beat that…
He uses the SAME term of love in both these instances! The Greek term used here is “Agapao” which is to love in a social or moral sense. Whoa…. now doesn’t that challenge you? It sure does me!!! What does it mean to love in a social or moral sense? Is just hanging out with one another “friendship” or love? The difference between a friend and an acquaintance is spelled out in the definitions above. You know of an acquaintance but you know a friend on a deeper level.
With a friend, you will begin to communicate in a meaningful fashion. It’s not merely a ‘hi’ and a ‘bye’… It’s not merely a prayer request of a need for a job or for healing of a sickness… but it’s the sharing of more stuff on a personal level. Sharing our fears, sharing our emotions, our desires, our hopes, our plans… and allowing others to fulfil the commandment for their lives, in obeying God’s Word to love, and especially that of the “one another” commissions.
Friendship can’t be piggy banked off another friend… “Oh, tell me what that person told you, so that I can keep an eye on that person”… Why do you think that person didn’t share it with you in the first place? You are obviously not being a friend yourself. Are you able to open up and share with others? If not, why? Are you afraid of breach of confidence or are you afraid of that causing harm to your plans? Well, where is your trust? Do you truly believe in God’s Word? Then do you truly believe that if God is for you, who can stand against you? Do you believe that if God has ordained something, then nothing can hinder it? There may be delays and for all I know, if something is of God, there will be delays as the enemy is all out to destroy God’s plan. But if our trust is in God, and if we aren’t shaken, nothing or no one can stop God’s plan – of course other than our disobedience and haste.
Yes, we do need to exercise wisdom as to who to share with. Jesus does tell us not to throw the pearls in front of the swine. He also tells us to be as harmless as doves yet as shrewd as serpents. However, we go to the other extreme and exercise lack of faith in God… and our lack of love for God is also evident. God calls us to “love” one another. If we loved Jesus, we will then keep His Word (John 14:23). Automatically love for one another will follow. I’m not talking about the ‘love’ done as good deeds to get a good name or for other selfish gain. We will love and not control nor dictate…
Not only did Jesus define love through His own life, He also went one step ahead and clarified how to love one another… “as I have loved you” (John 13:34). What a yardstick!! How difficult is that!
Jesus left His rightful place on heaven, seated next to His Father in all glory… Yet He came down to earth, in a time of no transportation, no electricity (which also means no fridge in that warm weather), no technology, rough paths through the wilderness, through the deserts, over the hills and through the valleys… He lived on earth even without a place to lay His head to rest at times… and He sinned not at all… This was all to forgive us from our sins, to nail it to the cross so that our relationship with God may be restored.. And if we yield, by accepting Jesus as our personal Saviour and repenting of our past sins, eternal life in relationship with God would follow…
Jesus also clearly states the effect of our love for one another…
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
If we are a part of the body of Christ, with Christ as the head, we will indeed love each other as we are joined to Christ as the head. We will then indeed, suffer when one member suffers and we will rejoice when one member is honoured (1 Corinthians 12:26).
Cliques and groups and ‘exclusivity’ will shatter… We will increasingly be Kingdom minded… and we will begin to embrace more and more people… and reach out to love others on a regular basis with sincerity and sacrificially… We will go onto deeper levels with each other.
- Where do you stand today?
- Where do you need to move to today?
Remember, friendship day may be marked out today… but it is to serve as a reminder of the importance of friendship so that everyday will be a day of love for one another.. which can only follow if your relationship with God is that of 24x7x365
Starting from today, over the days to come, why don’t you make an effort to say thank you to each friend personally as to how you appreciate them – give details? Why don’t you make an effort to find a way of showing your love not just in words but also in actions – hearing them out, lending a helping hand, giving them a shoulder to lean on, making them smile, rejoicing with them in their achievements, encouraging them in times of discouragement…
Friendship day, takes me down memory lane to my best friend from Engineering School, whom I haven’t met in donkeys years but by the grace of God still in touch with. A godly man, a man after God’s own heart – he set to me an earthly example of love… to be there when I needed a shoulder to cry on, to study together, to bug each other and to share food etc. Every time he dropped by our house, he would come armed with yellow roses and wouldn’t ever fail to remind me that was symbolic of lasting friendship… and by the grace of God it has been a lasting friendship that honoured God. Yes we eagerly wait the opportunity to meet again soon and trusting God to make a way.. and I eagerly wait to meet his wife again too and get to know his kids whom I have never met still. Yes, friendship day to us meant everyday and not just once a year.
Having said that, I have had many many friends with whom this is true – and who have stood by my side despite my failures and weaknesses and mistakes and especially hurting them! I thank God for every friend in my life who have been there in my sorrows, in my times of sadness and in my joys and achievements!!! I thank God for every friend who has chided me in my times of self pity so that I would snap out of it too! I thank God for every friend who has supported my work / passions even though they may not understand in various ways such as spiritually, morally, emotionally, financially for needs and even giving me some treats! And because of their friendship I am able to be a friend to others!! And most importantly I thank God for His love and His vessels – namely, FRIENDS.
Happy Friendship Day….