The Perks of Friendship

Friedship can be entertaining as well as fun, but if you are a person of faith, maybe there's more to it than that!
by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source:

         Sometimes I think that I am an “old fogy” because my perception of how things WERE and how they are NOW are so radically different that I think I grew up on another planet.  I also think that times were more civilized THEN as opposed to NOW.  Perception is reality as someone once said.  Friends were everything then and one could hardly wait to spend physical time with your buddies even if it was just doing nothing.  Some of us are lucky enough to have and enjoy the same friends from those days who knew and appreciated our every thought no matter how crazy and were with us toe to toe through every crisis and joy of our lives, major as well as minor.  These days, though, we have BFFs, FB friends, Tweeters, Fans, Followers, chat room protégés, on-line buddies, those we “party with” and others.  For young people all of these belong to the category of “friend” even though they might not have ever met the person face to face and quantity is a much more revered measure than quality, sigh. 

            Back in the day, there were unspoken “rules” for friends.  Before a person would refer to another as a “friend” Some time had to pass and a level of trust had to be established by trial and error.  Only then did another deserve to wear the title “friend”.  It was a precious designation not lightly given.  Once you became friends you would never dream of lying about, cheating, compromising or insulting your friend either publically or privately.  All of those were absolutely taboo out of pure respect.  Honesty was the absolute rule between friends and a friend would come to your assistance no matter the day, hour or situation.  In the words of the immortal Carole King: “Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there. You’ve got a friend.”   That was honor among friends and it was without question or condition.  I don’t mean to imply that everything in our post-modern society is inferior to the “old days” but when it comes to the interpersonal you really have to wonder. 

            What about friendship in Jesus’ day?  It seems to me that friendship was pretty serious business in those days too.  When we think about friends in biblical times we have some clear examples of friendship that come straight from scripture. In repeated readings we know that Jesus was clear about the matter that because of what he did and taught, he would most certainly die.  He also knew that he was establishing a “movement” and was diligent about schooling his followers, establishing a hierarchy and making sure that there would be competent leadership to carry on after he was gone.  These heirs apparent were also friends.  They all knew that in the footsteps of their leader they would most likely die also.  Although they had their weak moments, this did not deter their mission, nor did it hamper the gathering of more followers and/or leaders after Jesus’ crucifixion.  Jesus followers carried on not only because of the clear mission that had been invested in them but also because they loved their friend and would not let his work be in vain.  I guess you could call that the ultimate price of friendship.  “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends…. I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father”.  (Jn 15: 13, 15 Jer. Bible)   Besides Jesus personal example there are other scriptural accounts about what can be expected from a friend.  In the Old Testament we see: “A faithful friend is a sure shelter, whoever finds one has found a rare treasure.”  (Si. 6:14 Jer. Bible)  There are also stunning examples of friendship by the ordinary people of the bible going about their everyday lives.  In Luke 11 we see the man who has guests arrive in the dead of night.  He goes to his friend next door to ask for bread in order to entertain his guests.  The bible clearly states that it is the neighbor’s duty to get out of his bed, unlock the door and give the petitioner the bread he requests because of their friendship.  What about the story in Mark 2 where a paralytic is literally lowered through the roof smack in front of Jesus to be healed?  The other part of the story is more astounding because it tells that his four friends actually got this guy to Jesus.  How determined were they?  They had to transport the paralytic from who knows where and when they got to Peter’s house the crowd was prohibitive, literally.  The friends were not deterred; they hauled him up to the roof, undid the tiles and safely lowered him down.  Now that’s friendship to the max.  The bible also clearly identifies Martha, Mary and Lazarus as “friends” where Jesus would actually go to have some down time while staying in their home.  

            So we clearly see that as far as Jesus is concerned, friendship is not a matter to be taken lightly.  It is not an entertainment or amusement.  It is a position that carries with it responsibilities and the ability to muster courage when your friend can’t manage any.  In the final assessment, how brave did the disciples have to be?  The four friends showed extraordinary perseverance and love.  Friendship is a privilege that can have extraordinary blessings and grow our personal spirituality in ways that we never imagined.  Which would you rather be:  the friend who Tweets about being at Starbucks or the friend whose friends will stop at nothing to make sure you get the healing you deserve?  You pick!  Old school……not so bad sometimes. 

Copyright©2010,  Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.   

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