'Two friends, one soul' (Euripides)
My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This, then, is what I command you: love one another.
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. .. We love because God first loved us. If someone says he loves God, but hates his brother, he is a liar. For he cannot love God, whom he has not seen, if he does not love his brother, whom he has seen. The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love his brother also.
We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God's friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ's life! But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God's friends
(John 15: 12-17; 1 John 4: 7-9, 19-21; Romans 5:10 and 11 -all GNB)
Friendship with God is the ultimate friendship. In Jesus Christ, he reveals his nature as 'full of grace and truth'; by his Spirit, he awakens our desire to know him and respond to his love.
One of the fruits of the divine friendship is a new intimacy with our brothers and sisters. Like pieces of metal attracted to a magnet, we find that as we are drawn closer to God, we are simultaneously drawn closer to each other. As our barriers of fear and mistrust are gradually broken down, we find that we want to reach out to others and offer them our gifts.
We offer ourselves to each other in a spirit of servanthood, aware that each one is sent to us by God and reveals a different aspect of God's nature. The one may wash our dusty feet, another may allow us to pour the ointment of our tenderness on his wounds. There will be times of laughter and sharing, times of silence when together we adore our mutual friend.
During his earthly ministry, Jesus loved his friends deeply and regarded them as gifts from God. They, in turn, comforted him with their love and encouraged him by their growth toward maturity. At the most crucial times of his life, he desired their company and support -- on the mountain of transfiguration, in the garden of Gethsemane, at Calvary. His final prayer was that his friends would be one with each other and with God.
Committing ourselves to our friends in a covenant relationship will be costly: genuine Christian love, according to Morton Kelsey, is 'forged against the anvil of our selfishness and possessiveness, of our anger and our fear'. To be true friends we may have to confront others with the way they hurt us, and with the way we perceive they could be hurting themselves.
As long as we have the intention to love, God will take our faltering attempts and transform them, using the process as a means towards union with himself. As we rest in our friend of friends, we will find that it is the Lord himself who is loving through us.
The intimate relationships in my life have been the source of the revelation of the mystery of Jesus. Through relationship I came to experience incarnation -- goodness and transcendence enfleshed in human form.
Teresa M. Boernig, Prayer and Relationship
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace...
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth;
and only the unprofitable is caught...
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds
its morning and is refreshed.
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
I have described the goal of life as a deep and lasting relationship to God. But this relationship cannot be understood apart from two other relationships which are bound up with it: with other people and with ourselves. Indeed, the relationship to God, to other people and to ourselves forms a trinity in unity. Each relationship requires and depends upon the others, so that if one is defective the others will be defective too. It is through other people's love that God's love is first mediated to us.
Christopher Bryant, The Search for God in Depth
When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.
Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude
The real cure for loneliness is the healing interaction of two personalities.
Katie E Wiebe, Alone: A Search for Joy
While each of us has a personal journey to complete, there is no need for us to travel alone. If we travel together we are able to encourage each other. Our journeying involves us offering heart hospitality to others... It is ours to provide a free and empty space without evoking a sense of owing, a space uncluttered with personal furniture... Providing a free and empty space for others, we commit ourselves to accepting the strangeness of strangers. Each brings a gift, themselves. In our openness, we are challenged by each guest, changed by them unpredictably... It is thus that we entertain angels unawares, even Christ himself. We are most aware of his presence when the Christ in others reaches through to and engages the Christ in us.
Graeme L. Chapman, Being Together in the World
One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few... We can have a surfeit of treasures -an excess of shells, where one or two would be significant.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea
One of the critical problems in society is the absence of trust. Men and women cannot trust because they do not have enough friendship in their life. If there were more friendships in the world there would be more trust, and the level of tension in societal relationships would decrease almost automatically.
Andrew M. Greeley, The Friendship Game
Sometimes I wonder ff it is wise to work directly at relationship. What matters is to be centred oneself, always ready for the moments or hours of meeting when they come. Then the relationship can be trusted to take care of itself... Meeting is of course always something of a miracle, and cannot be planned nor explained. Mercifully, real, vibrant meetings which always entail the presence of the mysterious 'third'... befall us as a grace, and stand out like beacons, and no forceful removal of barriers will, of its own accord, bring them about.
Irene Claremont de Castillejo, Knowing Woman
Every time I am given this unexpected awareness towards some other creature and feel this current of communication between us, I am touched and activated by something that comes from the fiery heart of the divine love, the eternal gaze of the Father towards the Son, of the Son towards the Father.
John V. Taylor, The Go-Between God
Community is that place where we enter into the presence of each other and the Lord who called us there, as fully and totally as we do in the engagements with ourselves and God. It is a place that calls me to abandon myself to you, for in so doing I discover myself. It is a place where I am available to you as I have learned to be with God and, because of my availability with you, I learn to be available to God. It is a place where I am totally present to you, aware of you and listening to you with the totality of my being. It is a coming together because Christ has called us to be committed to him and to each other through his gift of koinonia.
William Clemmons, Discovering the Depth
No friendless man... can be truly himself;
What a man looketh for in his friend and findeth... is his own better self.
Self-revelation is both the indispensable core of personality expansion and the essential gift-giving of friendship. We become fuller, richer, warmer, more humane human beings precisely to the extent that we are able to enter into friendship relationships. The more we permit the lover to know us, the more worthy of his love we become; as his searching gaze probes even deeper into our personality, he discovers riches of which no-one else was ever aware and in which we scarcely dare to believe. But, because he sees within us, we actually become the good that he sees. By reinforcing the very tentative inclinations of the beloved, the lover actually creates his beloved. We become that which the lover wants us to be, and he becomes that which we want him to be. When he reacts positively to our tentative, fragile, yet courageous self-revelation, with warmth and affection and encouragement, we discover resources in ourselves of which we had always dreamed but whose reality we could not believe. The lover, in other words, is a person who makes our dreams about ourselves come true.
Andrew M. Greeley, The Friendship Game
No matter how much we love a person, accept him, give him support, have a warmth and affection for him; no matter how much we help him in so many ways, unless we can actually call him forth so that he is himself exercising the uniqueness God gave him, then the love is incomplete; he is not free; he is less than fully human.
Gordon Cosby, from a sermon, ‘The Calling Forth of the Charisma'
Lord, I need friends...
to ease my loneliness;
to speak peace to me when I am distressed;
to walk with me when I am unsure of the way;
to provide a safe place where I can discover my true self.
I need friends...
who will laugh with me as well as pray with me;
who will embrace me without wanting to possess me;
who will explore their truth with me as it is continually revealed.
I need friends...
who will reflect you, Lord, as you reflect your Father;
who will recognise and call forth the Christ in me
as I do the same for them,
so that in mutual giving we may become
the persons you have always seen us to be. Amen.
May God who gives patience, steadiness and encouragement help you to live in complete harmony with each other -- each with the attitude of Christ toward the other. And then all of us can praise the Lord together with one voice, giving glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Romans 15: 5-6, LB)
High Mountains, Deep Valleys ed. By Rowland Croucher pp. 82-88