Recently, I heard from someone whom I have not thought about for quite a while. It has been years in fact, since the last time my friend and I have enjoyed conversation. I’ve missed him and I’m glad to hear that he has missed me as well. After all, we were friends. Following our conversation, I was reminded of an exercise I have done with church men’s groups. Gathered in small groups we would talk about our best friends. As usual, most of the men chose a friend from high school, college or the military as their best friend. Then I asked them when was the last time they either spoke with or saw their “best friend?” Most hadn’t seen or heard from them in years. The question then becomes, are these really our best friends?
Certainly there are those people in our collective past with whom we wish we had maintained contact over the years. I can think of several people who I have great memories of but have not stayed in touch with. In this exercise it soon becomes evident that our concept of friendship is a little bit askew. Friendship is not a noun that simply describes a relationship between people; rather, it is a verb that takes time and effort to be accomplished and accomplished well. Quality friendships endure because the participants have a genuine interest in the life of the other, and care enough to remain a vital part of each other’s lives.
In Acts 20:36-38 we read, “When [Paul] had finished speaking, he knelt down with them all and prayed. There was much weeping among them all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving especially because of what he had said, that they would not see him again…”
The apostle Paul most certainly formed friendships with those churches he visited throughout his journeys, and through his letters he remained a vital part of their lives. Paul also strengthened his friendships through a daily diet of prayer for his friends in far off lands. Rooting his friendships in Christ, Paul provides an example of what friendship means.
The relationships we form with our Christian friends most often prove to be our best and longest lasting friendships. We may lose touch from time to time, but through lasting memories, and quiet moments spent in prayer, we can remain a vital part of our friend’s lives, even as years and miles have separated us. Lifting up cherished memories and giving God thanks for the good times are ways of recognizing past friendships. It allows us to feel the joy of being a friend to someone whom we love, and reminds us that in Christ we are all one.
This week I pray for my friends, past and present. I thank you for the memories of good times we once shared, for the times you supported me when I needed it, and for the privilege of being your friend in those instances when you needed me. May God bless our friendships now and always.