My grandfather would often sit in his chair and read the paper or play the guitar and sing. He had a very close friendship with another man that for a long time I didn’t understand. This friend would stop by the house and just walk in. Sometimes my grandfather greeted him and other times just continued reading the paper. This friend would come in, sit down, grab some of the paper to read, stay for a bit and then just get up and leave! Other times they would talk or sing or whatever, but as a youngster I thought it was rather weird. At some point I realized just how close they were in that they didn’t need to say or do anything to enjoy each others company or define their relationship. Even as I write this, in a way, it still seems weird, but it worked for them! Pastor Andy Anderson wrote this on friendship.
If you were asked to define friendship, could you? When you think about it, it is not so easy to define, for it means so many things to different people. Books are filled with words trying to define friendship, yet so many are unable to do it. One author states, “it’s easier to say what friendship is not,” stating that it is not to obtain a better status , or to get something you want from someone else, or the means to escape your own boredom. Friendship, according to Ronald Sharp, a professor who teaches a course on literature of friendship says, “It’s not about what someone can do for you, it’s who and what the two of you become in each other’s presence. The notion of doing nothing but spending time in each other’s company has, in a way, become a lost art. People are so eager to maximize efficiency of relationships that they have lost touch with what it is to be a friend.” The good professor may not understand the biblical view of laying down your life for another, but his reasoning is good in that we do lose touch with what it means to be a friend – a true friend. We do so because we are so busy maximizing our day, becoming more efficient, and trying to fit as many things as we can into our days, and the losing end is being able to spend time together. We indeed have forgotten how to just sit together, and enjoy the presence of another person. Consider the story of Ruth! When Naomi and her husband and two sons left Bethlehem and settled in the land of Moab. Naomi’s husband died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. They took Moabite wives, but soon they too died. Naomi had no one left, and decided to head back to Judah. She told the daughters-in-law to go back to their people, and one of them did, but the other – Ruth, would not. Here is what she said: “Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17 You see, Ruth considered Naomi not only family but a friend. That friendship went beyond the self-preservation of Ruth, for she was willing to pay the cost of staying in the relationship with Naomi. God would bless that, in that Ruth would have a son, and name him Obed, who would be the father of Jesse, who would be the father of King David. True friendship is a rare bird indeed, and one in which we don’t have to forsake all for a friend, but probably would, for the friendship is bigger than work, bigger than social status; bigger than money, and it is more meaningful than whatever exists on this planet. It is the relationship that Jesus wants to have with us, and would we be like Ruth, and be willing to do whatever, and wherever Jesus leads because of that relationship? He gives us an example of what true friendship is like, and enables us to be that kind of friend, right here, on the journey.
Heavenly Father, teach us how to be that kind of friend, that forsakes all for the friendship. Lord, can we even possess it? I know through You, all things are possible, and I pray for those who read this today, to have that kind of friendship, that closeness of another to spend time with. Lord I also pray for these who not only need friendship but a touch from You – the True Friend