Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:1, 24

In what ways has God been a good friend to us? How does He stick with us, draw us out, and forgive us?

What kinds of friends are we? Do we stick with others? Do we draw out others? Do we forgive?

Wise friends stick with us, and we stick with them. Friends draw out our hearts, and we draw out their hearts. We desperately need friends who forgive us and whom we forgive. Depth in friendship is created as we walk with people through all that life throws our way, even when going deep isn’t easy or convenient.

It’s foolish to live in isolation. Wisdom comes to people through the shared wisdom of others in community. We all need loyal friends. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. From the very beginning, God said it was “not good” for people to be alone (Gen. 2:18). Investing in meaningful friendships is one way we pursue God’s best for our lives.

Jesus is the True Friend

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:12-17

What’s the greatest love? How did Jesus demonstrate that love to us?

Think about Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. How did Jesus stick with them? How did he draw them out? How did He forgive them?

Jesus’ relationship with the disciples demonstrates the way and wisdom of friendship. Even Jesus, who was God, didn’t isolate Himself but pursued friendships. Even Jesus, who was the Messiah, sought the help of His friends. Over the course of years, Jesus spent countless meals, walks, workdays, and even parties with His disciples. At the end of His life, He called them His friends and said He would die for them.

We’re Friends of God

Who are you apart from God?

Who are you in Christ? What does it mean that Jesus has called us His friends instead of servants?

In Christ we’re no longer enemies of God or slaves to sin, but we’re now friends of God. No longer do we have to clamor to prove ourselves, get noticed, or live in fear. Jesus has made us friends with God. If you want to have real friends, you first have to know friendship with God through the cross of Jesus Christ. He forgave you of your sins, set you free from your bitterness, healed the wounds of your past, and gave you the love of God to be a friend. True friendship happens in no other way.

We Forgive, and We Befriend

Read John 15:12-17 one last time. What does Jesus call us to do in the context of our relationship with Him?

Why does the love of God at work in our lives call us to forgive others? How does forgiving others regularly draw us into deeper levels of friendship?

The new commandment Jesus gives us is to love one another the way Christ loved us (see v. 12). He wants us to seek friendship and unity with one another in such a way that the world will know we’re friends of Jesus. Forgiveness is an essential element of Jesus’ friendship with us. When we love as Jesus loved and are friends as Jesus is a friend, we forgive as Jesus forgave us.

(Taken from Making Space by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2018 LifeWay.)

What adjustments in our priorities and schedules would this kind of friendship require?

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Author Jeff Vanderstelt

As the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches and a teaching pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA, Jeff Vanderstelt gets to spend his days doing what he loves – training disciples of Jesus to make more disciples of Jesus and equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. Jeff is the author of Saturate, Gospel Fluency, and Making Space. He and Jayne, his wife, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie. Connect with Jeff at his website www.jeffvanderstelt.com or on twitter @JeffVanderstelt.

More posts by Jeff Vanderstelt

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