Friendship

Friendship is an undisputed value in our society, with children often spending more time
with their friends than with family.  It is a key concept in the Christian framework, with
Jesus being criticised for being ‘the friend of sinners’ and eating with those whom society
rejected.

Sharing a meal with someone is an explicit sign of friendship and the word ‘companion’
literally means ‘one with whom you share bread.’

Jesus tells stories of the heavenly banquet to which all are invited.  The barriers between
people are broken down in a loving community around God and Jesus had stern words to
say to those who refused to recognise that all are included in this community of
friendship.

The Bible has many sayings about friendship:
 ‘A friend loves at all times.’ (Proverbs 17:17)
Friends are not afraid to tell each other the truth and a friend’s loving criticism is worth
more than the empty compliments of someone who does not really care for you.
‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.’ (Proverbs 27:6)

The writer of Ecclesiastes puts it very simply:  ‘if one falls down, a friend can lift him up’.
(Ecclesiastes 4:10)

The friendship of David and Jonathan is very strongly emphasised in the Bible,  Abraham
is described as the friend of God (James 2:23) and Jesus explicitly calls his disciples not
servants but friends (John 15:14 - 15).

Trust, feeling comfortable in each other’s company, being able to share joys and
sorrows are all features of friendship and these are things of immense value.  True
friendship enables each person to grow and ensures that the unique individuality of each
person is recognised.  All this echoes the value placed by God on the preciousness of each
person.

Hymns like ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ point to a relationship that is at the heart of
Christian believing.  Knowing that God is our friend is to recover something of the
acceptance and close companionship that people of all ages need and crave.  

Biblical References
 
Proverbs 27:9   

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs
from his earnest counsel.

Luke 7:34  

The Son of Man (Jesus) … a friend of tax-collectors and sinners.
John 15: 13-14  (Jesus’ words at the Last Supper)  
‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for friends.  You are my friends
if you do what I command you.’

John 15: 15   

‘I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made
known to you.’