Eternal Friendship

“What? You too? I thought I was the only one!”
That’s the basis of friendship.

1. Earlier this month I spent time with an old friend, and she was telling me about how she has reallocated her time to fit her priorities. We have to choose to prioritize a few things and allocate our time accordingly, she said. I honestly felt a little silly feeling convicted by this considering obviously I had learned that lesson as an undergrad (or so I thought).

Yet as a graduate student, and being the energizer bunny that I am, I find my hand in way too many buckets in my first year here. The hardest thing about what I have done to myself is likely that the strength of many of my friendships have taken a hit. Even my social life is spread too thin. I’ve actually come to praise Jesus when someone cancels on me — something that historically upset me.

The most important friendship in my life though, has developed in ways I had never imagined when I first moved to the allegedly weirdest place in Texas.

Going to college in a conservative state in a conservative community provides a ripe opportunity to come closer to Christ, and considering how far away I was from Him the first two years of college, this was in some ways still a feat. When I did choose to take my faith seriously and change my mental model and approach to what being a Christian means, my life changed. My habits changed. My friendships changed.

Yet in my few years of growing in my relationship (2012-2015) with Him in College Station, Texas, I never really saw Jesus as a friend. Not until I moved to Austin.

No matter who you are, we all value friendship. Man was not created to be alone.2If this is the case, then there are some questions we all must answer for ourselves: what is the meaning of true friendship and what kind of friend am I?

First, a quick activity we can all try. The Lord provides us a remarkable list of what friendship should be. It’s surely familiar if you’ve ever attended a Christian wedding:

Bailey is patient, Bailey is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud.
She does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs.
Bailey does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
She always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 3

Bailey doesn’t do all these things, and never does them perfectly.

Let’s make it a bit more manageable in our mind. Let’s just ask ourselves if we’re doing those things to our three or four closest friends. Stop and fill in your name above and ask if you’re doing that for your best friends.

Yeah… we could probably be doing better.

What if the answer to doing better by our friends is to make Jesus a part of our closest friends circle?

What might that look like if we did? It would mean doing all the things with Him which we do with our best friends: hanging out, talking, eating, asking for advice, crying, laughing, rejoicing.

Moving to Austin, I had learned a few truths that guided my daily life from my walk with Christ and study of His Word: we’re supposed to deny ourselves4, count it all but rubbish to follow Him5, proclaim what He has done for me6, and to wash one another’s feet to become more like Jesus7. What I really didn’t grasp is that if I’m gonna take all that seriously, saddle up. Jesus has to be more than our Lord, Father, the one who suffered for our sake. He has to be our friend.

It’s no secret that UT is the exact opposite of an institution than A&M – it’s a liberal university in a liberal city. So maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the frequency of conversations I have had about what I believe with people who are far from God. No matter what is happening to me on any given day, if I have an opportunity to have this kind of a conversation with someone, the world stops. Nothing else matters. It’s just me, and the person whose soul is crying out to Christ, whether they know it or not.

I HAVE to talk to Jesus every day about these conversations. I need His friendship. I rejoice with Him when I felt like He was using me to speak to people, I have cried with Him when I felt they are in a deep spiritual battle, I have asked for advice when I have literally no idea how to explain some of the questions I am inevitably asked after I proclaim His name. I talk to Him in my head during these conversations. When I am eating with these people, I pray before eating so they see that as an altar to God.

These are all things I TRY to do, some of which I’m better at than others. I’m simply not a very good friend — to either these people or to Jesus. I get angry and raise my voice more than I should. I boast about my worldly successes because secularism tells me it matters. I distrust that financials woes in my family are in the hands of God, and what’s worse, I voice the complaint to others.

This burden is wholly subdued by this fact: He will perfect me until the day of Jesus Christ8. Perfect in this context means mature. He’s going to teach me how to be a better friend to Him. To be a better friend to my close friends, and to have clarity on which new friends in Austin I should invest in.

Solace ultimately comes from this knowledge and truth: A friend always lets you in, and never lets you down. 9

Only Christ can fulfill that call perfectly. Only Christ can provide eternal friendship. Why not respond by giving him a call right now? He wants to hang out with you.

Listen to 1, 9 Tim Keller – Friendship Podcast

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