God created us to be in relationships and deep friendships with one another. The friendships that are developed in this life between believers in the Lord Jesus Christ last for eternity. Godly friendship with one another on this side of heaven is far greater and has far greater meaning and depth than we are able to comprehend with our finite minds. To understand the depth of eternal friendship between believers, it has to begin with a relationship and friendship with Christ Jesus. Eternal friendship can be experienced only after knowing the One friend, Jesus. When you start to understand the longevity of eternal friendship, you will cherish, value and guard these friendships and not abuse or take them for granted.
People are not morally neutral, nobody is, they either influence our lives for good or for evil. Close friends have an enormous impact on our morals, characters and values. It is very important to choose carefully who is going to spend their lives and time with us. Somethings in our lives are determined by our choices, and somethings we just get (like family). We can’t choose where we come from, but we can choose where we go from there. I am convinced that the Bible teaches about choices and the consequences of the choices we make.
- In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve a choice – To obey Him or to disobey Him.
- The people of Israel were given a choice – To stay in Egypt as slaves or to leave for the promised land and be free.
- At first, Jonah exercised his own free will and chose not to follow his calling from God. It took an encounter with a fish to convince Jonah otherwise. Even so, he followed God’s call only grudgingly.
- Elijah the great prophet of God stood up at a time of compromise when the people of God were living in sin, challenging them to decide ( in 1 Kings 18:21) – “Choose ye this day whom you shall worship God or Baal?”
- And for the past 2000 years, the history of the whole world has been built upon a choice – Either you choose the Cross of Calvary, were Jesus paid it all by making the only way for us to the Father’s heart or you choose to reject it and have it your way.
“God’s will does not mean that we have no choice in the matter. Rather, God’s will is simply what He desires for our lives, whether we choose it or not. In order truly to love and follow God, we must have the ability to choose to do so. Otherwise, we are no more than puppets on a string, and our love and service to God are coerced and not authentic.” – Al Hsu
Eternal friendships are not found, they are made. They are built stone by stone and established upon biblical principles. It is not built on common background, interest, hobbies, education, upbringing, common social status, wealth but only with one thing in common – the glory of God. That desire for the glory of God expresses itself in manifold ways and it can express itself in fellowship, witnessing for Christ, encouraging and exhorting one another to live and walk with Christ.
David and Jonathan’s friendship is an excellent example of eternal friendship because they both had nothing in common other than the desire for the glory of God. Jonathan was the oldest son of King Saul and heir apparent (from human’s viewpoint). David, on the other hand, was the youngest son of an unknown father and chosen by God to be the successor to King Saul. While Jonathan lived royally in the King’s palace and was well known, David, on the other hand, had to work for minimum wages as a shepherd boy and was hidden from view. And yet, both their hearts were knitted together by one cause – to honour God, by seeking and obeying the will of God in their lives.
Eternal friendship is based on accepting one another. True friends are people who know everything about you and still love you all the same. Eternal friendship is based on a joint desire for obedience to the word of God. Jesus said (in John 15:14), “You are my friend if you do what I command you.” Eternal friendship must lead to intimacy. It is about iron sharpening iron, lifting each other’s burdens, helping each other to accomplish God’s plan for each individual lives, and for better impacting our workplace and neighbourhood for Christ. Eternal friendship encourages and affirms. It is one thing to know and believe the revealed will of God according to His Word, it is another thing to trust it completely.
I am convinced in my heart that each one of us needs giant in our lives, and each one of needs to be a giant for somebody else. The renowned English physicist Sir Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” The Bible is full of examples of such eternal friendship, for example in the friendship between Moses and Joshua; the relationship between Elijah and Elisha; Paul and Timothy, and the great friendship between David and Jonathan. Eternal friendship gives and asks nothing in return. Jesus said (in John 15:13), “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
The first step involved in the building of eternal friendship is to lose one’s timidity. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable is a price worth paying for godly eternal friendship. Perhaps, this is a lot easier for women to do than it is for men. Pat Morley wrote the following in his book (Man in the Mirror), “I think most men could recruit six pallbearers for their funeral, but hardly anyone has a real friend he can call at 2:00am.” I think most men desire the approval of others but the fear of rejection often keep them from initiating a deeper relationship. Vulnerability is a price of true godly friendship, but it is a very small price to pay if your identity is in Christ alone above all else.
Eternal friendship needs to be constantly nurtured and affirmed. In making eternal friendship, we must learn what it means to be in covenant with one another. Knowing God is a covenant making and keeping God with us, we also should imitate his example. In all eternal friendship, loyalty is what God is looking for. Loyalty can be developed, learnt, imitated and experienced. In fact, the world does not need any more philosophers or more lecturing, what the world is desperate for is authentic loyalty in friendship.
The foundation in which a friendship with God can ever be established is faith in God that connects us to God.
- In spite of all of his weaknesses and failure, Faith is what made Abraham to be God’s friend (Isaiah 41:8) even to the point that God shared his thoughts with him (Genesis 18:17).
- Faith is what caused Enoch to walk with God on this side of heaven and be literally translated to the other side of heaven as he walked with God (Hebrews 11:5).
- In spite of his weakness, failure and sin, Faith is what made David to be a friend of God. God even testified that by saying (in Acts 13:22), “I saw David’s heart after my own heart.”
- From the story of Saul conversion to Paul (In Acts 9), faith is what can turn an enemy of God to become a friend of God.
God extended His hand of friendship to us by giving up His one and only Son Jesus to die for us on a cross so to connect us to the heart of our Heavenly Father. Above all else, choosing Jesus, loving Jesus, identifying with Jesus unashamedly, being concern about what concerns the heart of Jesus, being anxious to please Him above everyone else and longing to spend more time with Him are all indicator that you are a friend of God.