Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Friend – the One who Comes in when the Whole World has Gone Out

An English publication offered a prize for the best definition of a friend, and among the thousands of answers received were the following:

One who multiplies joys, and divides grief”
One who understands our silence.”
A volume of sympathy bound in cloth
A watch which beats true for all time and never runs down

But here is the definition that won the prize:
A friend – the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out
Jonathan and David
The winning definition reminds me of a true story between David and Jonathan. After young David defeated mighty Goliath, King Saul brought David to his royal palace. There “Jonathan [the king’s son] was deeply impressed with David – an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number one advocate and friend… Jonathan, out of his deep love for David, made a covenant with him. He formalized it with solemn gifts: his own royal robe and weapons – armor, sword, bow, and belt” (1 Samuel 18:1, 3-4, The Message).

When David and Jonathan met, they immediately became close friends. Their friendship is one of the deepest and closest recorded in the Scripture. Their friendship was not without conflicts and family twists; Jonathan was the king’s son and by right should be the next king for the throne after his own father. But David had been previously prophesied and anointed by God to take the throne instead of Jonathan. Strangely, Jonathan knew this – but he and David were still best friends.

Throughout the Scripture, I see that they based their friendship on a common commitment to honor God. The center of their friendship was God of Israel. They didn’t let anything come between them. Not women. Not status and possessions. Not shaken by people’s opinions. Not even by family conflicts. They drew closer together when their friendship was tested, and they remain friends to the end. David to Jonathan and Jonathan to David was a good example of “the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out”. These are the marks of a true friend.

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend is always loyal” (NLT); “A friend loves at all times” (ESV, NIV); “Friends love through all kinds of weather” (The Message); “Sahabat sentiasa saling mengasihi” (BM); “Seorang sahabat menaruh kasih setiap waktu” (TB). I may not be the best of friend to my friends but I want to be friend for them for who they are in relation to God for me. To my Christian and non-Christian friends – God – (should be) the center of it all. For God’s glory and Christ honor in friendship, for the love that Christ had done for us “when the whole world has gone out” and for His continuing love at this present moment and future to come, for the sake of triune God of the Scripture who is the supreme example and reality of relationship – enable us to love, to always royal, at all the time, through all kinds of ‘relationship-weather’. This is both a commitment and a prayer; our human’s will and God’s sovereignty.

Enable us O Lord Jesus Christ to be that kind of friend we pray. Amen.
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