This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. … I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” John 15: 12, 15
Friendship is a very valuable commodity in living life. Not a commodity that comes from material possessions or things that can be accumulated, counted, harvested, or banked for the future. True friendships, like water, can’t be control but they prove to be the greatest of resources with untold power for life.
When Jesus makes this declaration to the disciples, he does so toward the end of his life. He has lived life with these men for three years. He has taught them and shared with them his life of love for the Father, how he listens for and follows the Father’s voice, and how they can do the same. They have become his friend because they have shared life together. That’s how friendships begin.
Think about the friends you have. How did they begin? Many will look back to high school or college days, classes, team members, clubs, youth groups, fraternities/sororities, camps, mission trips, neighbors, whatever the common experience where life was lived together. These are the seedbeds for our friendships. When life’s circumstances erupt we find just how deep those seeds have rooted.
The Kingdom lifestyle that Jesus proclaimed and lived, and which the apostles picked up and taught, runs on the commodity of relationships. In the New Testament there are 22 passages that speak directly to how we interact with one another relationally. These ‘one another’ texts provide tangible glimpses of the Kingdom.
I’ve put these 22 passages in one of three categories: Those that describe some servant activity toward another, outright exhortations to love, and those that describe the physical location of ‘alongside’ in which one would serve/love.
Looking at these passages I’ve concluded that a person probably can’t have vast numbers of friends! It takes a lot to come alongside another to serve and love, yet this is the way the Spirit chooses to expand the Kingdom. He chooses to come alongside of us so we can come alongside others.
To be a friend that will signify the inbreaking of the Kingdom will always require a choice to come alongside and love and serve when life’s circumstances crash in upon someone. As a spiritual discipline that transforms us, friendship will require a choice. That’s not always easy as our personal responsibilities and obligations increase over time.
It will require the laying down of our own agendas and timetables, which always seems inconvenient. Yet this is the very activity that unleashes the virtue of Christlikeness.
The spiritual discipline of friendship is about choosing to come alongside another to serve and love. Friendship is the commodity that ignites Kingdom activity in every generation.