Remember when you worked up a sweat pulling weeds, so you drank a Coke which made you feel so happy and gay that you forgot about your chores resulting in a smack on the bottom from your momma? Well, those words – weed, Coke, gay and smack – all have different meanings nowadays. That’s what happens with a lot of words. They don’t mean what they used to.
Even the word friend has taken on new layers and levels of meaning. For a long time friend has meant a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection or a member of the Religious Society of Friends. Those have been two long-standing, widely-accepted definitions. Then along came Facebook and talk about friending and unfriending people, many of whom never really knew each other much less shared any bonds of mutual affection.
But Jesus is our Friend. (John 15:15) Our true friend. Our unchanging friend. Our friend through good times and bad. Our friend who never walks away. Our friend who sticks closer than a brother. Our friend who not only would but did lay down His life for us. (John 15:13)
Jesus is not just a friend; He is our best friend.
He accepts us unconditionally. We can come to Him just as we are with our sin baggage. (Romans 5:8)
He listens to us. We can share whatever is on our heart and troubling our minds – doubts, questions, tears, joys. (1 John 5:14-15)
He is always available, and He never abandons us. He never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4) and never takes a break (Matthew 28:20b)
He navigates life with us – ALL of life. The good, the bad, the ugly. (Hebrews 13:15 b, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20)
Isn’t this what we want in a friend – acceptance, listening ear, availability, support and encouragement?
Jesus began calling His disciples friends rather than servants because He had entrusted them with everything He had heard from His Father (John 15:15). Can we truthfully say that we are His friends? Do we trust Him as he has entrusted us? An Our Daily Bread author asked, “Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours?”
Friendship is a two-way street. To be a friend of Jesus, we need to accept Him (as our personal Savior and Lord), listen to Him (hear what He wants us to know and do), be available (submit and surrender to His will), support and encourage (the building of His kingdom by sharing His Gospel to bring others into friendship with Him).
As a child my parents used to tell us that “to have a friend you must be a friend” – their variation of Proverbs 18:24. Like about 99% of what my parents taught us, that is true. To have Jesus as our friend, we must be His. And what a friend we have in Jesus!
You might enjoy this history of the hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, and these renditions of the song:
- The Story Behind the Hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKjUoE2fack
- Mississippi Mass Choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18Zx74T70bs
- Mahalia Jackson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2kbogwgBM
- Alan Jackson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X35JDIdQF5A
- Mount Zion College Choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFQjTTdxr9k