Friday, 19 September 2014
Feasting on His Friendship
True friendship is more than a greeting card slogan. The real thing is rare and strengthening and burden lifting. It is a gift.
Feasting with Friends
That was my experience recently. We reconnected with friends over dinner. The pleasure of the food was multiplied as we began to catch up on. “How are you?” She meant it. As I started to unload some of my burdens, she was nodding. I didn’t even have to finish my story. “I know.” Understanding was in her eyes as well as her words. My vision blurred. Then her Irish humor broke out and she had me laughing.
“And you?” I asked. Her story spilled out in waves of facts and emotion. I felt her fears. I caught her courage. She sprinkled her story with the question, “you know?” I did. When I left the restaurant, I felt lighter, stronger than when I came. What a gift.
The next day was another story. It had been a great weekend, but now I had work to do. As I turned to it, I realized that I was behind schedule. I made a list and threw myself into the first task. I felt pressured to produce quickly, to make up for lost time. My anxiety began to interfere with my ability to concentrate. I realized I could use a friend’s help right now.
Taking His Friendship Seriously
Now is the time to take Jesus’ offer of friendship seriously. “I have called you friends,” he said to his disciples and to all who see his death as payment for their sins. I know he is my friend, but I forget to call on him that way. I don’t want to bother him with small stuff. After all, he’s my King, my Lord, and today’s small stuff doesn’t seem worthy of his attention. But it is because he is more than my king. His love is too vast to be described by a single relationship, even that one. My King came down from his throne to my level. He stooped to make me his friend. The incarnation made it possible. The crucifixion made it actual.
The level ground of the cross is the level ground of friendship for you and me and Jesus. He wants us to receive his gift of friendship not just once for all, but on a daily basis.
So I take him at his word. Psalms 25:14 is my guide:
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
The word translated “friendship” is footnoted with another meaning, “secret counsel.” Just as human friends take turns pouring out their inmost thoughts to each other, I have the opportunity to speak and also listen to my Friend. This kind of sharing is offered to all who fear him. Feasting on his friendship means drawing near to him right now both to speak and to listen.
I start. I begin to journal not just about the pressure I feel, but the underlying performance anxiety that dogs all my work. I spill out my heart on the page quickly, not wasting time with formalities or fear that I might offend. This is my friend. He wants to know. Sharing turns to praying. Jesus help me. Not just to get things done but to change. Talk to me about that. Or about anything else you want to tell me.
I open my Bible and begin to read. This conversation is two-way. He wants to share with me his secret counsel, to make known to me his covenant. He wants me to know his one way love more deeply today than yesterday. He wants to fill me with that steadfast, eternal love so I can share it with others.
As I read, (Galatians 5 was the passage), I begin to hear his heart. His purposes are so much bigger than mine. They include me, but they aren’t wrapped around me.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but rather faith working through love.
I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. My performance isn’t important–it doesn’t count for anything. I am “in Christ Jesus.” My work is his work, his way to love people. He’ll help me.
I believe that our friendship with Jesus is a place of untapped potential in the Christian life.
- Just as instinctively as we pick up the phone or text a friend, he wants us to turn to him.
- Just as freely as we pour out our heart, he wants us to keep nothing back.
- Just as hungrily as we hope a friend will include us in her plans, he wants to include us in his.
- Just as friendships deepen over time, he wants ours to deepen and mature.
- Just as friends influence and change us, he wants to transform us to be more like him.
Each of us knows something about friendship from first hand experience. Bring that with you next time you meet with him. Count on Jesus to be your first and best friend.
Receive. Feast. Drink deeply.
Then you and I will be able to go out and offer little sips of true friendship to others.