Christian friendships should be more about how we can serve God through them than they are now. Such friends as Jonathan and David, Ruth and Naomi, and Paul and Timothy are a testimony that it is possible to have wonderful friends in this life. First Samuel 18:1 describes an outstanding friendship between Jonathan and David. It clearly brings out the essence of friendship; to love the other as you love yourself. They were loyal to each other and made oaths that were fulfilled even after Jonathan died. Their friendship is a fitting example of sacrificial love, loyalty, and emotional openness—the three elements that psychologists consider essential for friendships to succeed.
Song of Solomon 5:16 records another wonderful friendship, in which the wife describes her husband as her beloved and her friend. Neglect can destroy even a very loving marriage. It is not automatic that the two just grow into close friends, and without giving each other attention, couples can easily grow apart. They should be intentional about cultivating friendship. A loving friendship in marriage can endure a multitude of challenges and is a blessing to everyone around.
In Jesus, we have our ultimate, superior, and purest best friend, who will never fail us. Jesus declares in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Usually when a friendship involves two people of unequal standing such as a subject and a ruler, the subject is expected to show more love for the ruler rather than the reverse. Although He was God in every way, He demonstrated His love toward us while we were still sinners. He left heaven, lived the life of a vagabond, bore our sin, and died the death of a robber because He loved us. Most people want to be loved even without them loving. A true friend loves instead of waiting to be loved. Jesus, a friend who sticks closer than a brother, loves us.
Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:14, 15) and clarifies the beginning of our friendship (John 15:16). Jesus chose us; we did not choose Him. Although He could call us “servants,” He chooses to call us “friends” instead. He is the Author of our friendship, a friendship borne purely out of love. The cross was not an accident or coincidence. It did not happen by chance. Jesus chose us; it was planned. Jesus made a deliberate choice to come and die for lost humanity.
As our friend, Jesus does not fear to point out sin. He does not watch and fear that rebuking sin will cause friendship tension or cause the friendship to end. In His loving, kind, and merciful manner, but with authority, Christ rebukes, admonishes, and encourages His friends to choose life. He gives criticism that is in His friends’ best interest. Jesus is often heard telling His friends to “go and sin no more.”