Someone once asked me if I had many close friends. My reply was, perhaps, a little too quick and definitely a little too cynical. I said, "Friends are overrated."
Looking back on that conversation (and, for some reason, I have done so often) I didn't really mean it that way. OK, maybe I kinda did. I'm just as happy on my own as with a group of people, maybe even a little happier. But I would like to retract that statement. Friends aren't overrated, but I think friendship may be undervalued.
I recently made a plea on the air for people to "friend" me on Face Book so I could get to the 200 friend plateau (see the J93.3 Morning Show blog entry for Wednesday 9/28/2011). I surpassed the goal handily. It's pretty easy being Face Book friends. One person makes a request, the other person clicks "confirm" and badda bing, badda boom, you're friends. It's kind of nice. You get to meet people who share similar interests, get to know them, at least virtually, and get exposed to some points of view that you might otherwise miss. And you get to see who you share as mutual friends.
But true friendship is costly and comes with a good deal of responsibility. Jesus outlines some of what it means to be friends in John chapter 15. He starts off by saying that His command for us is that we love each other as He loves us. So far, so good. But then Jesus reveals the costly part when He says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
We know that ultimately Jesus did lay down His life on the cross to demonstrate that greatest love. And while some of us may be called upon to make that once in a lifetime gesture, for most of us the laying down of our lives for our friends is a much more daily, sometimes mundane and inconvenient demonstration. The cost of friendship is often paid in things like airport pick-ups, late night phone calls or spending a Saturday making change at a yard sale.
A little earlier in that passage in John Jesus talks about one of the results of being His friend, joy. His joy in us that our joy may be full. And then, later, Jesus once again states "I have called you friends." And He implies that friendship with Him means, by extension, friendship with everyone else He calls friend. That's the social network I'm excited about being a part of. Now Jesus does go on to warn what friendship with Him may mean, as far as persecution by the world. But that's a topic for another day.
For now it's enough for us to realize the importance and gravity of our friendships, face-to-face or virtual. Especially with those with whom we share Jesus as a mutual friend.