Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Art of Friendship

According to the New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, art is the application of knowledge or skill, it is works designed to give intellectual pleasure (as music, sculpture) and pictorial representation, it is a skillful workmanship.

After having spent the last few weeks pondering this thing called "friendship" I have learned that it is indeed an art. Friendship is cultivated as a sculpture, chiseled out of a hard heart, and formed into a beautiful representation of fellowship. It is indeed a song that soothes the most frazzled mind and calms the most restless soul. It is not shallow or simple but it is built up from a sharing of knowledge and love and hopes and dreams and struggles and fears. True friendship is no doubt a workmanship of God's design.

Then the LORD God said,
“It is not good for the man to be alone;
I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

True friendship is a covenant not unlike that of a marriage. The first friendship was between man and God, the second between man and wife, the third between brothers and sisters... our friends in Christ are our family. 

 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven,
he is My brother and sister and mother.
Matthew 12:50

When I first thought of Biblical friendship my mind immediately went to Jonathan and David. I grabbed my Bible and turned to 1 Samuel 18 to read their story.

Now it came about
when he had finished speaking to Saul,
that the soul of Jonathan
was knit to the soul of David,
and Jonathan loved him as himself.
1 Samuel 18:1

I thought, "Wow... this is friendship... it is soul-knitting."
When I read this verse in 1 Samuel 18 there was a cross reference listed so I followed it to read,

"or your friend who is as your own soul"
Deuteronomy 13:6

Then I thought, "Wow, a friend is someone who is as my own soul."
As my own soul...

I have always heard that if you wanted to know who your kids were you just needed to look at their friends... yet it had never occurred to me to say "if I want to know what my soul looks like, then I need to look at my friends" 

Why do we have the friends we have? Why do we call them this treasured word "friend"? When we look at them, their character, their integrity, their heart condition... what do we see? If they are as our own soul what do our friends say about the condition of our own soul? About our own character, our own integrity, our own heart's condition?

When Christ came and walked this earth as the Word made flesh, He joined Himself with several men and He spent much time with these men. He shared His heart, His character, His will, His mind, His integrity with these men. He invested His life in them.

No longer do I call you slaves,
for the slave does not know what his master is doing;
but I have called you friends,
for all things that I have heard
from My Father
I have made known to you.
John 15:15

When we become friends with Christ, He knits His soul with ours. He loves us as Himself, and He is as our own soul. We become one flesh with Him and we behold Him as in a mirror and we begin to represent His image. Others should be able to see Him when they see us.

But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from glory to glory,
just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

This thing called friendship is really an amazing beautiful thing. the desire for it comes from our Creator. I love what A.W. Tozer says in his book, The Pursuit of God, when he writes: 

"We have almost forgotten that God is a person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can. It is inherent in personality to be able to know other personalities, but full knowledge of one personality by another cannot be achieved in one encounter. It is only after long and loving mental intercourse that the full possibilities of both can be explored.
All social intercourse between human beings is a response of personality to personality, grading upward from the most casual brush between man and man to the fullest, most intimate communion of which the human soul is capable. Religion, so far as it is genuine, is in essence the response of created personalities to the creating personality, God. "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
God is a person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires, and suffers as any other person may. In making Himself known to us He stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.
This intercourse between God and the soul is known to us in conscious personal awareness. It is personal..."

Did you see in John 17:3 that God desires that we know Him?
Oh precious one, do we not desire to be known as well?
Is that not what the root of the desire for fame is?
Is it not Satan perverting our God given desire to be known deeply and intimately and fully by Him, our Friend, and turning it into a desire to be known shallowly and lightly and emptily, in quantity instead of quality, by fickle man?

Friendship is personal. It is formed after long loving mental intercourse has taken place, a sharing of the minds, hearts, and souls. It is not formed in the crowd, but from one on one invested time with another person. It is formed when we are willing to lay our armor aside and be vulnerable to another, when we consider others as more important than ourselves, and when we are willing to invest and share our future with the life of someone else.

Then Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself. 
Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him
and gave it to David,
with his armor,
including his sword and his bow and his belt.
1 Samuel 18:3-4

So who do you call friend?
Why do you call them friend?
If they are "as your own soul" as God said in Deuteronomy 13:6 then what do the one's you call friend say about the condition of your soul?

Can Christ call you friend?
Have you laid your armor down?
Have you allowed your soul to be vulnerable to Him?

For we are His workmanship...
Ephesians 2:10

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