2011-10-13 - The Power of Friendship
Originally Published 2004-09-16
Prov 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. (NAS)
There are two very powerful thoughts here.
"A Friend loves at all times," means there is nothing that one friend can do to the other that will break their friendship. There is not act or word that can not be forgiven between two friends of this kind. This is not a reference to casual friends or acquaintances. I have a few of these friends. There number is small, but I count on them even if only to know they are on my side. Conversely, I make it very clear to them that I will be on their side regardless of the circumstances. Let me explain that I think that phrase "regardless of the circumstances" means. If one of these friends were to actually commit a crime, a serious crime, I may not be able to do anything but remain on their side. But I will remain on their side. Their guilt or innocence is not a factor. Guilty or not, they are still my friend. If they attack me, I value their friendship enough to wait for a time when things calm down and we can work things out.
Does it mean that it doesn't hurt, or there are no questions? No, it does not. But it does mean that the value of this special kind of friendship is worth taking a few angry words or actions. Is there a limit to what is tolerable? Is there a point where this friend could demonstrate that they are no longer a friend? I suppose there is. But there are so few of these relationships in a lifetime that the limit is higher than may even be logical, and the value of the relationship is worth the price of the pain.
Needless to say this kind of relationship is not given away lightly, and only rarely quickly. This kind of fierce loyalty is sometimes born in a moment of adversity. When one person must have help to get through something. The help can come unasked and unexpected. At times, it even comes unwanted given with a firm explanation that says the help is given because it is the only way the outcome will not be ill. Either a blood brother, or that friend that sticks closer than a brother is someone you can count on in a desperate or frustrating moment. As sure as God is in control, He moves hearts that respond to the needs of someone in the middle of adversity.
The english language has more than a few weaknesses. In Greek, there are five words for love. One is the same root word we get Philadelphia from, the City of Brotherly Love. The greeks recognized this as a form of love. They separated it from the romantic or erotic feelings that we english speaking people most often refer to as love. Our culture often has difficulty with this concept of the love of friends to our detriment I believe. Even the best of us needs assurance at times. And a hug is a great way to let someone know they are not alone.
This is a description of the best mortal man can ask, and it is rare. But this is only a pale shadow of the love of Jesus Christ for a lost and fallen creation. He has demonstrated His love to us over and over again. And we as a people, and even those who call Him Lord and Savior struggle against Him at times. And yet, He remains at out sides. He knows that without His love we are pitiable at best, and lost for all eternity in the end. And so He stays through the slings and arrows and misunderstanding at our sides. He remains that friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jesus has paid the ultimate price to free us from the power of sin and death. That tells me that, in His mind, the relationship is worth the price of the pain.
Grace & Peace,