My wife has pictures of she and her best friend which she cherishes. These pictures can’t help but make one think of simpler times and more pleasant days. I look at these girls and I am reminded they have been friends through thick and thin. It is a friendship that passed the test of time.
It’s hard to have close friends. Some blame this on the pace and pressure of life today, with financial and career demands more time-consuming than ever. Others argue that social networking lets simpler virtual friendship make up for the real thing.
But as psychologists point out, the absence of close friendship leaves a void that the best marriages and closest partnerships can’t fill. Primary loyalties reach a breaking point when made to carry the full emotion of both parties. Relationships fall apart, and rates of loneliness, depression, and even suicide grow.
Earlier cultures traditionally considered friendship so important that newborns were assigned a best friend right at birth! Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the earliest advocates of women’s rights, spoke of both men and women in noting that while Eros is transient, “the most holy bond of society is friendship.” She echoes Aristotle’s argument that friendship is essential to the public good by enlarging understanding beyond private and domestic life.
The Bible itself speaks not only of the love, mercy, and judgment of God, but of the friendship of God. Abraham and Moses are called “friends of God.” God needs others. That’s why we were created. In the divine image, we in turn are made to need others – not only as with Adam and Eve but also Naomi and Ruth, Jonathan and David, and the friendship commended elsewhere in Scripture. Jesus calls us friends (John 15:12). He says we reciprocate by being a good friend of others.
Dear Lord, in this time of Facebook friending and unfriending, may I be a true and real good friend of yours by being a true and real better friend of others. Help me to turn my virtual friendships into the real, everyday actions of a true friend. In and through Jesus. Amen.
Grace and Peace