A NEW FRIEND REQUEST
If you are familiar with the world of Facebook, it will not surprise you to receive ‘friend requests’ from people you’ve never met or barely ever conversed with. At the tap of a ‘confirm’ button, a new friend is added to your timeline. Thankfully there are privacy options that restrict which events of our feed we would like to share with these ‘friends’. (Phew!)
Friend Request Approved
As I was recently contemplating on these unknown friend requests, it struck me how I’ve given Jesus the place of ‘just another’ Facebook friend in my own life. He sent a request, I accepted; and now He was a part of the biggest (online feel-good) friend network that I belonged to. Here was someone I didn’t know personally but I had heard about since my childhood. He was also a mutual friend with some relatives and Church members, so obviously no second thought was given in adding Him as a friend. The rest of my friend list may have been notified about this newly found friendship, but most were too busy watching 5-min craft videos and posting selfies to even notice. The only communication I now have with this ‘friend’ is the annual birthday wish (isn’t that what Christmas is all about?!)
Scary thought isn’t it? How do we bow down to political rulers and government leaders, yet give the Creator of our existence the position of an ignored Facebook friend? Quite contrary, the Gospels make evident that Christ gives us easy access to His friendship. But how do we perceive this friendship? How do we perceive any friendship these days?
There is nothing wrong in tagging oneself as a friend of Jesus but what we do not realize is that in doing so, we have a much higher calling than simply hitting a ’confirm’ button.
Worth Dying For
So what exactly makes for authentic friendship with an invisible being?
John was Jesus’s close friend. In fact scripture calls him ‘John the beloved’ and rightfully so. He writes in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” A friend that would lay down His life for me! Wow, now that’s something!
But then again, I’ve also heard of all-time best sellers like Romeo and Juliet or stories of men and women laying down their life for their loved ones during a fire rescue or in a drowning situation and I have marveled at their heroic selfless sacrifice. Bryan Adams in his song ‘(Everything I do), I do it for you’ also said I’d fight – I’d lie – I’d die for you. Does a Bryan Adams poster now qualify to be framed on my altar? What makes these songs or life rescue situations any different than the claims Jesus made?
It is so easy to immerse ourselves with the norms of the culture that surrounds us. Through a worldly lens, one can’t deny that it seems almost logical to question the integrity of John’s statement above. But seeing friendship only through the lens of John 15 is like bringing half the puzzle pieces together and trying to assemble them.
When we move from scripture to scripture we arrive at a ground shaking truth which says, “Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).
Now here is something truly remarkable and one we can confidently say cannot be found in any secular love story.
To lay down one’s life when the other person is wicked, proud and least deserving, is a truth our selfish culture will never make known. It is a truth we can never find on social media.
Going Beyond The Facts
Jesus teaches us that Friendship is a relationship we share with someone. But it is not one of those relationships that exist by default like that of a child or a parent. It can exist between blood relatives but isn’t restricted to them. It is a relationship of choice, one that grows over time. Generally we tend to develop this connection with people who think like us or with those who share similar interests or perhaps just someone we feel comfortable with. Friendship involves trust and trusting them enough to make them a part of our inner circle.
When I think of my close friends, I discover that with each of them I could share a different story as to where I first met them and how we’ve grown to be the friends we are today. The bottom line is that friendship cannot exist without getting to know the other person. Not just knowing facts but going beyond to know the real ‘you’ and the real ‘me’ and then embracing each other’s life with all its strengths and weaknesses. Jesus sees us that way.
Jesus knows our weaknesses even more than we know ours and He loves us to the point of death.
Can we really say that we know Jesus? Yes, we know a lot about Him, but do we really know Him? He’s already extended His hand of friendship and the best way we can respond is by obeying His commands. One might assume this to be a very authoritative friendship, but once we come to truly know Him, we begin to see how even His commands are nothing but an extension of His love for us. His commands then become delightful and we long to obey and love Him.
Best Friends Forever
As young people of this generation we are very quick in wanting to move our friendships to the next level or offering to be ‘more than friends’ in keeping with the forward culture of our times. Yet we are so passive in initiating friendship with the One who holds us together during the storms of life. Always remember, our friends may be there for us during our tragic times but they cannot deliver us or promise that our storms will go away.
With Jesus, we not only have genuine friendship but also Hope for every hopeless situation.
Come fall in love with a friend that didn’t just die for you – but with someone who seeks to draw you into His inner circle every single moment. If you need proof, you’re not going to find it in the billboard hit of the week or in a viral social media thread. His love for you is a personal affair. Read through His Word and discover His very own love letter for you.
As your mutual friend in Christ, believe me when I testify:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
I pray for godly friendships in your life as you read this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brinelle D’Cruz was raised Catholic but it took moving to a desert (Qatar) to discover the Wellspring of life. There youth ministry and deep friendships made for refreshing streams alongside salivating shawarma spots. With a degree in Architecture, her aesthetic preference is like her choice of words – minimal, which is why she believes God divinely blessed her with a life-time entertainer, her husband Daniel. They make their home in Mumbai. Connect with her on Instagram @bree.mix