A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
– Proverbs 17:17
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
– 1 Samuel 20:42
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
– James 2:23
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
– Luke 11:8
Note: I usually quote a paragraph of Scripture to gain context. In this case, I was looking for the word ‘friend’. Solomon says in Proverbs that a friend loves at all times. The friendship between Jonathan and David was well documented in 1 Samuel. James states that Abraham was called God’s friend. Later, in James 4:4, James cautions us that any friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
In Luke 11:1-13, Jesus gives a shorter version of the Lord’s Prayer and discusses the concept of God giving us our daily bread. In Luke 11:8, He describes that even when ‘friendship’ breaks down, shameless audacity will result in bread. Note: I think Jesus is telling us to pray daily to receive our daily bread. It’s that shameless audacity thing, you know. But, Jesus is also saying that friendships on this earth are not always perfect, because we are not perfect. God is perfect and will provide bread when asked in faith.
Some of us have had a few close friends in our lifetime. Rarely is there more than a few. The people that have thousands of friends on Facebook, may actually have no friends at all outside cyberspace. Do these ‘friends’ hug you when you are blue? Some of us may be lucky to have one friend.
My wife remembers people’s birthdays. She argues that if you care for someone, you should know the basics about them. In her mind, it starts with the birthday. She also says that friendships require a lot of work. In other words, to have friends, you need to make friends. You need to get to know them and occasionally do the things that they like doing.
Let me share a fictional conversation with a friend. He’s just said that he has a BFF, best friend, forever.
I ask, “Oh? What is your friend’s birthday?” “Not sure. I’m thinking June? Maybe early July?”
I probe some more, “How tall is your friend? What is the color of his eyes? Hair?” “I’ve always looked up to him. So, I guess he’s taller than me. No idea about the eyes or hair.”
I enquire further, “Is your friend a man of principles? What does he stand for?” “Oh, yes, he’s a man of principles. That’s why I like him, but … Uh… I can’t really describe what he stands for.”
Getting very frustrated, I ask, “Okay, one last question. How long have you known your BFF? Can you describe the scene when you first met?” “I seem to always have known him, so I guess I cannot remember when we met.”
Does this fellow really have a BFF? If I did a decent job of describing this friendship, this fictional friend of mine has no friendship with his BFF at all. He’s not sure about the birthday, my wife’s bottom line of knowledge. He cannot describe his friend. He does not know what values his friend holds. He cannot remember when he first met his friend. What other aspects there might be in a friendship that there are, this guy probably comes up with nothing on those items also.
I asked someone in a church meeting one time, many years ago, “If you were asked, ‘What do you believe?’ What would you say?” Someone replied, “I’d say that I have no idea, but I can introduce you to the preacher, and he can explain it.” How many more are sitting in the pews?
Jesus died on the cross to save us from the second death, the result of dying the first death in a state of sin. He asks that we believe and totally trust Him. He calls us brother. According to Proverbs 17:17 above, a brother goes beyond mere friendship to be there in hard times. Jesus is saying that once reborn, we will have a relationship with Him, not a passing acquaintance.
For that to happen, we need to know Him. His traditional birthday is 25 December. Frederick A. Larson, in his research on the star of Bethlehem, states that he thinks Jesus was born in June of 2 BC, having been conceived in September of 3 BC. He goes on to surmise from watching the stars, as calculated by the computer, that the wise men visited Jesus on 25 December 2 BC. Do we know this for sure? Larson’s arguments are sound. They are backed by science and meet the description of the star in the Bible, but it is still one man’s interpretation, and a very powerful video worth watching.
Do we know what Jesus looked like? No, but it is probably far from most of the artwork featuring a Caucasian male with blue eyes and rather tall. People in the first century were not very tall. If Jesus were over six feet tall, he’d be a giant among men. Remember how the people from his hometown muttered about His ability to teach and do miracles in Mark 6. You could paraphrase their questions in one descriptive statement. He did not stand out as being exceptional when He was growing up. So, maybe Jesus looked ordinary.
But what of Jesus’ principles? Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe that is our problem. Too many of us do not know our neighbor’s names, much less birthdays.
But the only way to know Jesus is to read the Bible. We cannot have a relationship with someone unless we talk to them. We need to pray.
And when we meet Jesus, we will never be the same.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.