How Jesus Did Friendship
There’s a lot to be learned from how Jesus did friendship.
Your best friend—that person you tell everything to, the person included in all your plans.
When you get the job you hoped for, she celebrates with you.
When you absolutely must talk it out, she stays on the phone all night with you. When tragedy strikes, she cries with you.
Your inner circle—those women who have been part of your life for many years. You’ve raised children together. You’ve road tripped together. You’ve buried a parent or planned a wedding together.
An acquaintance— someone you once worked with, the lady you sit by in church, or the high school classmate you rarely see but always say hi to. The PTA president at your kid’s school.
To me, relationships are like the rings that tell the age of a tree—small circles then larger circles extending outward. At the core, you find the BFF. The circle closest to you are those you do life with, the inner circle. In the outer rings lie a multitude of friendly acquaintances.
When examining the relationships in my own life, I’ve often looked to Christ as the example or measuring stick. Now I haven’t always gotten it right. I’ve entertained some unhealthy relationships and tenderly nurtured others.
A close look at the Bible shows us how Jesus did friendship.
It’s a bit different from how we do it.
We find Jesus purposefully establishing his inner circle, surrounding himself with twelve men who would do life with him, learning the will of God.
We see him eating with his friends (Matthew 9:10, Mark 2: 13-17), praying for his friends (John 17:6-26), and needing their support during his greatest trial (Matthew 26: 36-46).
I think it’s important to note that while the Son of God befriended sinners like you and me, he did not remain with them in their sin or enable them.
He spoke deliberately in the name of the Father, acknowledging their sin, forgiving them, and then parting from them.
Being a lover of movies and literature, I tend to make connections between the characters, theme, and plot then relate these to my current situation. There are a few movies I feel illustrate the beauty and gift of solid friendships—friendships I think Christ would bless.
Beaches- a story of forgiveness
CC and Hillary become friends during childhood. They grow up sometimes quarreling or competing, but, as other relationships flourish and die, the two are always there for each other—even traveling long distances through tumultuous times.
Young Hillary: “Be sure to keep in touch C.C…okay?
Young CC: “Well sure…we’re friends, aren’t we?
This sweet exchange between the young girls illustrates their desire to be friends. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 illustrates the benefits of choosing right friends--
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Later dialogue is a reminder of the hurt and forgiveness that inevitably occurs in close relationships.
Hillary to CC: “I don’t even remember what it was I was mad about and I don’t care. Whatever it was that you did, I forgive you.”
Proverbs 27:5-6 addresses the ups and downs often endured in relationships —
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood- staying on course
Three life-long friends embrace acceptance and forgiveness after acknowledging a painful past littered with regrets, shame, and secrecy.
“Friends are supposed to act like harbor boats--let you know if you’re off course. But it ain’t always possible…” I think this line from the movie is exactly what our friends should be—that voice that whispers, “Hey, you’re messing up. Get it together.”
The women in this movie are a powerful reminder of Proverbs 13:20—
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
Sidallee, the youngest of the women, comes to learn the lesson in Proverbs 14:4-6—
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests. An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none, but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.
Steel Magnolias- relentless support
Five women encounter tragedy and good fortune but grow stronger and closer in the process. The women represent those in our own lives. Ouiser is sharp-tongued, self-sufficient, and brash but loving. Annelle is the young divorcee, starting life over, who comes to know the Lord. M’Lynn is the champion wife and mother of three. Truvy, a local hairdresser, represents compassion and longs to rekindle the spark with her husband. Clairee is financially fortunate, witty, and seemingly genteel.
In a tense yet playful exchange of words between the five friends in a cemetery, the bond shared is undeniable and proves unbreakable.
Clairee (grabbing Ouiser)—“Here! Hit this! Go ahead M’Lynn, slap her!
Ousier (taken aback and confused)—“Are you crazy?”
Ouiser—“Are you high, Clairee?”
Truvy—“Clairee, have you lost your mind?”
Clairee—“We’ll sell t-shirts sayin' I SLAPPED OUISER BOUDREAUX! Hit her!”
Annelle—“Ms. Clairee, enough!”
Clairee— Ouiser, this is your chance to do something for your fellow man! Knock her lights out, M’Lynn!”
At this point Ouiser breaks away and stomps off from the group, leaving the ladies in laughter through tears. Mission accomplished: Clairee came to the rescue of her friend through extreme comic relief. Later Ouiser accepts Clairee’s apology, realizing the playful banter may have been necessary.
Colossians 3:12-14 explains what binds these women in perfect unity—
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
If I had to cast me and my friends in a movie, Steel Magnolias would win.
Thelma and Louise- what NOT to do
A not-so-healthy friendship is depicted in this popular partners-in-crime, friends-till-the end drama. This relationship leaves little to be desired when measuring it to the standards of Christ. It’s a partnership shrouded in danger, despair, and discontent. While their run from the law appears thrilling and adventurous, it quickly becomes empty, unsatisfying, and tragic. How many of our relationships fall into this category? I know some of mine have.
Proverbs 12:26 is a good reminder that the righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. And James 4:4 warns adulterous people that friendship with the world means enmity against God. Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Thelma and Louise could, in fact, be 1 Corinthians 15:33--
Bad company corrupting good character.
Think of your friends.
Do they lead you closer to the Lord? Or, do they lead you away?
Who is your Hillary, your CC, your BFF? Are you surrounded by a M’Lynn, a Truvy, an Annelle, a Clairee, and a Ouiser? Do you need to cut ties with a Thelma or a Louise?
Remember that right relationship starts with Christ. Become friends with Him. He will never lead you astray!
To my friends, “I love ya more than my luggage.”