3. The Place of Christian Friendship: The Church
In other words, genuine friendship should happen as we live in faith and faithfulness to one another as the body of Christ. The Church, as Christ’s body, ought to be a place of friendship, a place where we can speak the truth in love and listen to one another. It ought to be the place where we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. And it ought to be the place where together we heard the Word, speak the Word, sing the Word to one another.
We are brothers and sisters in Christ, yes; but we also must be friends. Why? We are able to share friendship with one another because we are friends of Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself said, John 15:12-17 (ESV), “"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
Because we know God’s love, demonstrated by Jesus laying down his life for us; because we hear Jesus call us his friends; and because he commands us to love one another in the same way as he loved us—with the same sacrificial love demonstrated in friendship, we as Christ’s body, as the church, must demonstrate loving friendship for one another. We must be a people who are able to practice Christian friendship with each other. We must be able to speak to each other words of comfort, rebuke, wisdom, vision. We must be able to listen to each other. We must worship together as God’s people.
If genuine friendship, based on faith and faithfulness, does not occur here, where in the world will it happen? And if friendship perishes from the face of the earth, if faith and faithfulness disappear from human existence, do we not become something less than human?
May God then grant us love for one another that we might extend ourselves sacrificially to one another in loving friendship. May God grant us faith, to trust in him and in those with whom he has placed us. And may God grant us grace, to be faithful and loyal to one another, living out lives of Christian friendship with one another. For, after all, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Amen.