Friends can be closer than family because they are chosen willingly. When each learns to choose the other unconditionally a friendship without equal is forged.
Because Jesus loves us without condition, he is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I may choose him now but this is only possible because he chose me first. I know it worked this way because before he befriended me I cared nothing for him. Indeed, I knowingly rebelled against him. I mistook his overtures to lordship for despotism. I didn’t realize that his wanting to be my lord and his wanting to be my friend were entirely congruous. That is what makes him such a wonderful lord. He does not want to rule in spite of friendship; no, his guidance in our lives becomes more fully realized in light of his friendship. Indeed, his lordship is made possible through friendship.
A short while ago I was in Germany, chatting with a Dutch friend that I’ve known for 10+ years now. I said to him, “I’m your friend” and he replied back “And I’m yours, Troy.” He said it in such a way to remind me that the feeling was mutual, to remind me that it was not just I who wanted to be his friend, but he wanted to be my friend as well. I cannot tell you how much that simple statement blessed me. To know that I was not alone in seeking friendship with him, that he wanted to be my friend, too.
These days I’ve been faced with the task of making new friends. I don’t enjoy it very much. Often, I am left feeling like I am seeking new friendship while the other person is indifferent. And that doesn’t feel very pleasant.
So today I’m reflecting on what it means to have a friend in Jesus. The words to the old hymn have already been running through my mind and heart and I imagine I’ll hum it throughout the day.
Knowing that Jesus wants to be my friend comforts me and I hope it provides some comfort and hope to you, too.
When others are indifferent towards you, Jesus isn’t. When you feel like giving up, Jesus is that friend who encourages you and cheers you on. When you just need someone to listen, Jesus will listen. When you need someone to challenge you, Jesus will always do so in love, only in love. If you wrong him, he will always forgive you. If you feel like talking, he will be there. When you need someone to hang with, he’s always got time. When you need wisdom, you can pick his brain; he’ll always be sure to share a thought with you that will be just the perfect word. And you don’t have to worry if he accepts you or not. He accepted you before you accepted him. You are his friend because he is your friend. Hold on, hold on. You’re not alone.