By REV. DR. BRIAN GIGEE
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you…” – John 15:12-16a
What does it mean to have a friend? What does it mean to BE a friend? We all seem to have some. There’s no doubt we all need one… sometimes more. They are good for us and hopefully we are good for them. Some people I know have more friends than a month of Sundays and others have just a few… or just one. What does friendship mean to you?
The Bible shares a good list of those who were friends… albeit most of them male… they include David and Jonathan… one who became king and the other the son of a king… Moses and Aaron… who were much more than just brothers and then there was Naomi and Ruth… one who went to live with her mother-in-law. Who does that? And don’t forget Paul and Silas. They ended up in jail together yet remained faithful to their call… and then Jesus telling his disciples… “I chose you… you didn’t choose me.” Did they even have a chance? They didn’t get it at first… but finally came around and gave their lives to tell the story of God’s love for the world offered up in the life of Jesus. Maybe it was a set-up… that there really ISN’T a greater love than to lay down one’s own life for a friend. Faith matters. Their friendship truly mattered!
If I ask a dozen people “what friendship means,” I’m likely to get a dozen answers… and all of them good… with words like… trustworthy, honest, dependable, loyal, empathetic, non-judgmental, good listener, supportive, self-confident, able to trust others, accountable and fun to be around… and then there is the baker’s dozen version which includes “unnerving”… telling you the stuff about your life you really don’t want to hear… but really need to listen to nonetheless. We all need friends like that!
Hagit Grossman counseled… “If a friend calls out to you late at night from beneath your window… never send him on his way.” See? It’s a two-way thing… you get to choose who your friend is, and they get to choose you back. Night or day. Day or night. You may not know it immediately but finally it’s clear as the morning sky. Kahlil Gibran said it this way… “Your friend is your needs answered…” and “the one you come to with your hunger and the one you seek for peace…”
These days I’m closer to 70 years of age than I am to 60. I still feel like I’m 17. Most days. And I’ve had lots of friends in life… now with subtitles like my ‘longest’ friend… Gary. And the ones from ‘high school’… Mike, Dick, Candace, Jay, and Gary. The college list is the longest… with ‘fraternity brother’ attached… Sal, Joey, Carl, Steve, Cory, Ty, and Bill. Add to that… ‘colleagues’ Johan, Lisa, Charles, Jeffrey, and Ron. And now… ‘in Pearland’… Jeff, Harold, Doug, Alan, Herb, and John… as there are more names to post here than I have space…
As I have grown older, I recognize some friends are gone now. Someday, I will be, too. We miss being with friends in this complex COVID-19 time… but our friendships will outlast the lockdown… trust that… and if these words coax you to call a friend… tell them hello for me! Remember, Jesus calls us friends… so… we are!
The Rev. Dr. Brian K. Gigee is a long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches over the last four decades in Texas and Louisiana. You can read more following his blog ‘murmurings’ at https://briangigee.wordpress.com/. Comments and / or questions can be sent to [email protected].