The one thing that most people are desperate to possess is good friends. It is the reason television shows like "Friends" and "Big Bang Theory" are so popular and even attract Christians to be entertained by sin, because they depict the friendships we long to have. The fact is we need friends because we are not meant to be alone. We were created with the need for family and community.
In Corinthians 12 we find the vision of the Church, the Body of Christ. Not a thing divided but something of beauty with unity at its core. It is described as the many parts of the body, dependent on each other in order to function. We need each other because none of us possess everything we need. Friends, family, fellow believers lend of themselves to us and we lend of ourselves to them. When Jesus is the central figure of all relationships beautiful things are produced.
It doesn't mean that all friendships will be smooth. Even that truth is reflected in the crude humour of television shows, but when Jesus is at the center of it all, it is his love that glues us together. That is why apostle Paul goes from 1 Corinthians 12 to 1 Corinthians 13, because unity of the Body is only possible by the love of Jesus. We just don't have that right type of love to keep it going because in the natural we are abusers of people. We take what we want and we give very little back. When Jesus has authority in the relationship, be it friendship, family or marriage, service to one another is the foundation.
There is a tiny passage in Scriptures that has always stood out for me as a reminder of the importance of friendship. It was during the time of judges when everyone was doing what they thought was best; a time when Yahweh was only considered in hard times. We read:
So the five men departed and went to Laish. They saw the people who were there, how they dwelt safely, in the manner of the Sidonians, quiet and secure. There were no rulers in the land who might put them to shame for anything. They were far from the Sidonians, and they had no ties with anyone. (Judges 18:7)
Laish was a quiet, peaceful city with no close neighbours. They kept to themselves and never bothered anyone. What stands out is that they had no ties with anyone. It reflects a lot of attitudes I see today, people keeping people at a distance. They don't want anyone involved in their business and they don't bother with anyone else's. Live and let live. This city also had no rulers, no one to correct them, no one to whom to be accountable. And, as it turned out, no one to help them when they needed help. They were easy targets and easy to defeat, as are so many Christians today who do not understand the importance of the Body, of friendship, of accountability.
Friends protect us, even if that protection comes in the form of correction. We hear the slogans "Friends don't let friends drive drunk", but what if the drunk has no friends, no one who cares enough to say no? What about us? Some people see independence as a strong character but such independence makes a person weak, vulnerable, easy to defeat. We need friends with whom we can be honest. We need to be vulnerable and open to people who trust us and who we can trust. We need friends who put Jesus at the center of the relationship. We need friends who have our back and who we love enough to protect with our life if need be.
We were not created to be an island, to live in isolation, to be without accountability. We were created for the purpose of others, for community, for family. The Body of Christ is not a community as much as it is family. Many used to call themselves "brother" and "sister" as a reminder of that relationship. Such an attitude is not always easy but it needs to be important enough for us to work at it. Scripture says that friendship with the world will lead to our spiritual and eternal death so we need to look to our fellow believers and start building alliances before the enemy picks us off as an easy target. You can't sit back and wait for people to come to you. You need to step out and offer your hand in friendship and start building good alliances with Jesus at the center of it all.