On the one hand we hear that we need each other, that it’s not good to be alone, that friends are forever.
On the other hand we hear that all we need is Yeshua, He is all-sufficient and provides all our needs.
Both of these are true, and so we are faced with something of a paradox on the topic of friendship.
As believers in Yeshua, it is through our friendships that we are can be connected not only in the flesh or through emotions but also in the Spirit. A good example of this is the way that John the Baptist responded with excitement to Yeshua while they were still in their mothers’ wombs. So it can be with us when we see someone we know and love. The spirit within us gets excited when we come in contact with each other.
Why is this? It can be emotional, physical and spiritual. It may be because we are in relationship; we have something in common and we understand each other. This is what the congregation is built on; this is what it means to connect. In Hebrew the word connect or connection comes from the same root as the word for friend (Chaver). A friend takes our focus off self and puts it on to someone else. We are connected and concerned for each other.
Yeshua said, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Why is it so important to be a friend? A friend in this context does not control or manipulate but is genuinely concerned. Friendship like this knows no selfishness or jealousy but its purpose is to build up the other person out of a desire to truly care for one another.
With all of the social media and hi-tech advancement of today we are missing out on personal relationships. A beautiful example of a true human connection can be seen in the relationship of Jonathan and David. In I Samuel 16 we read that David played the harp for Saul to release him from the effects of a tormenting spirit. Yet in I Samuel 17:56-58, Saul does not even know who David is. However, Jonathan did not forget him. In I Samuel 18:1-5 we read that their friendship had knitted their souls together. Saul had apparently not honored David at all, whereas Jonathan went far beyond honor. He set aside his own right to the throne, and in verse 4 Jonathan gave David his own royal authority. He did this on his own, in love, not at the command of any other. What a friendship they had! Jonathan even risked his life to help David escape from Saul. And David, despite everything, loved both Jonathan and Saul to the end. (II Samuel 1:23)
The solution to the friendship paradox is the love God revealed when he came and walked among us. All we need is Yeshua. Yeshua is our example of the ultimate faithful friend who sacrificed everything for us and in spite of our failings, loves us to the end. And … if the focus of our lives is a personal relationship with God through Yeshua, then we will also be empowered to share His quality of love with others, becoming a true friend to those around us.
(This article is dedicated to a dear friend and servant of the Lord, Ron Dodds, who recently passed into eternity.)