Friendship isn’t always easy.
It seems like most celebrations of friendship (including mine) focus on the joys. Friends can make even the most difficult adversity a little more bearable and can expand the joys of life simply by being shared.
But like any relationship, friendship is – well, a relationship. And God loves to use relationships to teach us about ourselves, about each other, and about Him.
Friendship is unique among the relationships. You may be born or adopted into a family. The Bible says God places the lonely in families, and the order of action in that sentence is important. Family is something you belong to through no action of your own. Even if your earthly family is not the caring environment it should be, God uses the familial model on earth to help explain our heavenly relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ and with our Father in Heaven.
Blood is thicker than water, they say. Which refers to the enduring bond of family ties. Just think how much more true that saying is that for those of us who share the blood of Jesus!
A marriage relationship may be chosen or arranged, but once enacted it is bound in covenant. If one cannot undue their family ties because of blood, then one cannot undo their marriage ties because of covenant.
God uses the marriage relationship as a model for His promise to us. Jesus is our bridegroom, and His promises to us cannot be broken.
Which brings us to friendship.
Friendship is not bound by blood or covenant. You may have friends for a season or friends for a lifetime. You may have intimate friends and others who are mere acquaintances. Like other relationships, you may struggle with changes that threaten to tear you apart or be bound tighter by adversity. Yet unlike family and marriage, there is nothing external holding friendship together.
Yet this weakness of friendship may also be its greatest strength. You may be born or adopted into a family, and you may be promised into a marriage, but you mutually choose to be in friendship.
There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, the Bible tells us.
Friendship may be the weakest of the relationships, but there is something uniquely special about it.
The bond of friendship is a decision of the will.
I have called you friends, Jesus told His disciples. And when he placed his will on the cross, he tells each one of us: I have chosen you.
God bless the friends that we choose, and God bless the friends who choose us. And let us remember that there is one who is father and brother and bridegroom and friend. And He says:
I chose you.
Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate programs for Purdue University’s College of Engineering and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly, who recently passed away but is not forgotten. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org.