True friends are people who prove themselves over time. They truly listen in a way that draws out of us strengths we did not know we had. They stand by us in our trials, offering their support. Their constancy gives them a depth of knowledge about us, both of our strengths and of our weaknesses that allows them to be a gentle and loving mirror in which we can truly see ourselves. The result is that we are known. We feel accepted, just as we are. We are loved.
Christ is truly our truest friend. He has known us from the beginning, from before we were born. The prophet Jeremiah had this experience: “Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you were born, I consecrated you…’.” (Jeremiah 1:4)
Christ knows things about us that are hidden even from us. King David, the poet, recognized this: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me…you search out my path….and are acquainted with all my ways”. (Psalm 139)
David experienced Him as an ever present listener: “…the Lord hears when I call to him..” (Psalm 4:3)
And as Paul said, “He draws out our strengths; I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4: 12, 13)
He stands by us in all our trials. For this we have His word: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
He knows us and accepts us just as we are. He loves us unconditionally even when we do not have time for Him.
And yet….friendship is a relationship. Can true relationship be merely one-sided? Does it not want to elicit a response, however inadequate? Christ’s friendship is there to empower us, to empower us to join with Him in bringing the world forward and to be His friend. We are meant to “pay His love forward”. He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 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. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15: 13 – 17)