Call me strange, but “friend” is a word, or title, that I use wisely, but sort of loosely. I call many people “friend”. I’m also calling many people brother and sister these days, and it’s true to me whenever I say it.
Now, Is everyone welcome in my life? Absolutely not. And I don’t share all depths of me with each of my friends, either. There are different levels of trust and maturity. Even Jesus only took Peter, James and John with Him up a high mountain (See Matthew 17). I am guarding my heart above all else over here! But, I am also playing close attention to those God lets through the gate. I’m paying close attention to those that God welcomes in my life, that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to invite. I believe it’s for a purpose, and I want God’s purpose to be fulfilled. I don’t want to mess it up. Your presence is important.
I guess I call them friend based on who I AM, a servant, and not so much based on who they are, which I’ll never truly know. And truthfully, shouldn’t we be “calling things that are not, as though they were”, any way? (See Romans 4:17).
I’m inspired by Jesus and how He called the very dude that He knew was betraying him, friend, while being fully aware that he was an enemy. What the what?! Now, that’s a whole ‘nother level of amazing that I’m not sure I’ve yet reached. Check this out:
Jesus said [to Judas], “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. – Matthew 26:50 (NLT)
I guess I call them friend because I also see them as my flock. I feel a level of responsibility for those within my gates, especially as the party gets bigger! Their presence in my life keeps me on the straight and narrow path about as much as my presence in their life keeps them. I am honored to call them “friend” and I believe we need each other.
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. – 1 Peter 5:2-4 (NLT)
At the beginning and end of the day, it’s all about serving Jesus and following Him. We can’t have a “You Can’t Sit With Us” attitude and expect to win souls for His glory. Did not Jesus pray that all of us would be one with the Father, just as He is? (See John 17:20-26). Did not Jesus offer us something much more than friendship, that we could never return? I’m inspired by Him.
If Jesus, who is Lord and perfect in all of His ways, can humbly call someone friend who does not qualify, so can I! I’m not really talking literally either. I mean, yes, I do literally call people “friend”, but my point is, we don’t even live up to who He is to us, a true friend! So let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s squash our judgments, and quit sizing people up. Let’s get out of our own way and let God start placing people where they belong. For there are some who have been with you, that you will soon find, never were. And there are others, who have never been with you, that will soon be…and they are welcome at His table.
It’s not about what you can get, but about what you can give. With this perspective, I think we will all find that when we show ourselves friendly, we will have more friends than we thought, Jesus being the first and greatest of them all!