Got a "special delivery" from a long-time friend yesterday. (It could truthfully be said that we are 'old' friends too.) It was such an encouragement and when I saw her handwriting (which became familiar to me while studying from her chemistry notes in High School) a smile immediately came to my face. Friendship is a funny thing. It was just about a week ago that I saw another High School friend from across the store (in our local mega everything you can imagine at a bargain price store) and rather than engage in a conversation, I turned around and walked down anther aisle.

Sometimes seeing a friend for long ago can warm and lift your spirit like the March breeze pulling ever-upwards on a kite.

Sometimes the sight of a friend with whom you are at odds can constrict your heart and weigh on your mind like a crushing ball at wrecking yard.

Friendship can both bother and bewilder us. It can encourage and entertain us. Sometimes it is work an other times it is play. Sometimes it is the most exciting thing about life and sometimes it is the most discouraging thing about life.

Why is friendship so important? Why does friendship have such power over us? How can a wound from a friend be so deadly? Why do small hurts from a friend fester over time until they become grotesque wounds? Why is it that a well-placed compliment from a long time friend can make the difference in an all around cruddy day? And when that affirmation is withheld, an otherwise average day can turn ugly in a heartbeat.

I find it interesting that the book of Proverbs has so much to say about friendship. I mean, sometimes I look a friendship simply in selfish terms. I look at it in temporary earthly terms as if it is not spiritual, but part of this physical world. And yet God gives a good amount of attention to this subject in His book, while leaving some spiritual questions that I have completely unanswered. Or worse, God leaves so much room for theological debate over some topics that are thoroughly spiritual. (Debate that has cost a friendship with one of those friends I once enjoyed deeply.)

It must be that friendship is spiritual. It is spiritual and it is essential. Friendship is necessary to life and to faith. Friendship is godly and good. And it is most Christ-like to be good at being a friend, and being a good friend.

Part of our divine image is to be relational as God is relational. He is relational within Himself -
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is relational in His creation: the human, in His image, at the center of the creative order. There is no God without relationship...

Jesus, friend of sinners.
What an amazing title. What a heavy responsibility. What an incredible God. I wonder if He experiences feelings about friend and friendship as I do. I wonder if He is troubled by friends and friendships as I sometimes am. I wonder if pain and joy are mixed in His heart over friends and friendships as they are in my heart. I wonder if I am a friend he gets thrilled to see because my life and conversation brings Him joy; or if I'm such a downer that He would rather walk down another aisle at the local Cheezy-Mart.

Become a better friend. Become a better Christ-follower.

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