Friends, Choices, Jesus
“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” says Proverbs 18:24b (NIV).
Really? A friend who sticks closer than a brother? I thought blood was thicker than water. I thought family was as close as it got. And to the writer of Proverbs, family was everything. So what is the scripture trying to say?
We need family; we need blood ties. Strength and protection lie in biological connections. But we also need friends, friends who become closer than family. What do friends provide that family doesn’t?
In middle school, I was picked on a good bit. I was the British girl who had lived in communist Russia. I wasn’t the girl who was asked to dances. I wasn’t part of the popular crowd. I came home one day, quite upset about not being liked. My parents made every effort to console me. They told me I was beautiful and lovable. I recall looking up with a tear-stained face and saying, “You have to say that I’m likeable and pretty because you’re my family.”
I have every certainty that my parents’ consolation was not based on our biological connection and that my response wasn’t exactly fair. Still, my experience highlights one of the differences between friends and family. It might also reveal the treasure of friendship that the writer of Proverbs was trying to articulate.
Simply put: We are born into families. We don’t have a choice about that. But friendship is all about choice. My friends choose me. I choose them. Why is being chosen so powerful? Why does being chosen help to defeat insecurities and self-criticism?
Being chosen quiets the sneaky voice inside our heads that says exactly what I said to my parents: You have to love me; you have to think I’m pretty; you have to spend time with me. If someone chooses us, we can forget about the have to.
Jesus Calls Us Friends
At the end of his life, Jesus not only reminded the disciples that he was their Savior, Redeemer, Sustainer and that they were God’s adopted sons and daughters; Jesus also said, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15b, NRSV). Jesus doesn’t love us because he has to love us. He chooses us. He likes us. Jesus calls us friends because he wants to.
Think about that for a moment. Jesus not only loves you; he likes you. He chooses you. He calls you friend, which means he likes to spend time with you. Jesus likes to do some of the things you like to do. His interests overlap with yours. He likes to laugh, cry, be silly, and be real with you.
How does knowing you are Jesus’ friend change the way you think of him? How does it change the way you relate to him? What about you changes if you see yourself as Jesus’ friend? The next time you’re hanging out with friends, consider what it means that Jesus calls you friend too.
Write down some of the things you love to do with your friends. Choose one or two that you might do with Jesus. The challenge is to go beyond talking to him. How would you send texts to Jesus? How would you hang out in a park, go out for pizza, or watch a movie with Jesus? What would your favorite pastimes be like if you shared them with Jesus? Could you include other friends as well? Choose to practice friendship with Jesus.
—from devozine (March/April 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.