2 Nov 2014 by Reverend Dr Steven Kau –
I remember years ago being invited to share a message at one of my best friend’s marriage. When it came time to share a short message before the dinner began, I ended my message by saying, “I thought that when one grew up, a best friend was often no longer part of our life. However, you have taught me that a best friend continues to be one of the most important elements of your life by being mine.”
After the dinner, as I was exiting the hall where the dinner was held, a man walked over to me and asked if I was a preacher. When I said, “Yes,” he took my arm and said, “I hope you preach the message you made tonight. People need to know about friendship today; people don’t have best friends and that is a real problem in our world.”
In the last few days, I looked back at that episode in my life and began to reflect again on the comment that man made and to see how true his words were, especially today. Indeed, some of us today have lots of friends but very few that we can class as best friends. Although we have more ways to connect than ever before, we have built islands of isolation and many people even though surrounded by “friends” are very lonely people.
I have found over the years as I interact with people and had opportunity to provide some counseling and identify and relate with issues and concerns in their lives, I discovered that many adults walking around our world don’t really have a single person who they can call a best friend. When they left school, college or university and their place of employment, they had completely lost touch with their best friends.
I remember eventually preaching a sermon on friendship at a church where I was the guest speaker and focused how my best friend offered me continual salvation and checked on me every once in a while. Leaving that church that morning, one of the oldest member’s stopped me with tears rolling down his cheeks and said, “I buried my best friend a few days ago and it’s been really hard to grieve losing a best friend in a world that does not understand that. Thanks for creating that space and giving those words to me.” A young mother walked by with tears in her eyes and said, “Pastor that is what is missing in my life. I need a best friend like that.”
How can one journey through life without a best friend? How can ministers preach sermons trying to get to communities of faith to follow Jesus if they are on a solo journey themselves? How is life ever possible without the community of close and intimate friendship? Close friends provide us a place to be authentically ourselves as well as space to practice hospitality and inclusion. Best friends allows us to be honest about our doubts, gives light in our darkest hours, provide foundations for ministry and models what true, authentic and good lives look like. What makes a friend worthy of the name – Best Friend? An article from Psychology Today gives a few pointers:
a. Your best friend is committed to your happiness –
A true friend is consistently willing to put your happiness before your friendship. It is said, “good advice grates on the ears” but a true friend won’t refrain from telling you something you don’t want to hear; something that may even risk fracturing the friendship, if hearing it lies in your best interest. A true friend will not lack the mercy to correct you when you are wrong.
Your best friend is not just sympathetic, they are emphatic. They share your feelings, weep with you when you weep and rejoice with you when you rejoice. Your best friend stands with and stands up for who you are! He or she is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes the smile on your face.
b. Your best friend will not ask you to place the friendship before your principles –
A true friend won’t ask you to compromise your principles in the name of your friendship or anything else. Ever! Best friends multiples the good in life and is a constant companion against evil.
c. Your best friend will be a good influence –
A true friend inspires you to live up to your best potential, not to indulge your basest drives. Good friends allows you to make mistakes and love you anyway. They aren’t afraid to say you are being an idiot. Best friends are out biggest encouragers. They are dependable, trustworthy and unselfish.
On my ministry journey, I am very grateful to my best friends from yesteryears and church members who had taken the role of my best friends, whose love and encouragement kept me going when the going was hard. I have no illusion I could have gotten this far without their support. I am blessed by this friendship as any other sacrament in my life. And that should not be surprising. History and theology prove how important friendship is.
It’s time for Christians to reclaim the importance of friendship and not the kind we form through Facebook or other social media platforms. To see the importance of friendships is to find expressions of salvation and grace. We often get so caught up in the trials and tribulations of life that we forget how short it really is. Fill your life with people who add value to it and let go of the ones who do not. In the end, a true friend can see the words in your heart and tell the story of your life when your memory is gone.
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