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Building Blocks of Community VII: Close Friends

In Proverbs 27:10, we see three key attributes of a godly friend. First, a good friend demonstrates constancy; second, a good friend shows mercy; and third, a good friend manifests accessibility.

First, constancy: As we look to the friendship of Jonathan and David, we see that deep friendship that desires the good of another person cannot be shaken by events that would otherwise tear people apart. In fact, a real friend is so committed that he makes sure that after one of you dies, your children will continue the friendship. Both men had solid claims to the throne of Israel, but Jonathan entirely yielded and gave place to his friend David. Then, when Jonathan died, and David could no longer show friendship to him, he lavished friendship on Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. True friendship overcomes competition, and outlasts death, and so the proverb calls us not to forsake our friends, or our father’s friends.

Second, mercy: A friend is someone about whom you can be confident that they will help you. If you need money, your friend will help. If you need comfort or encouragement, your friend will be there. If a guest shows up and you need bread at 3am, your friend will not let you leave without bread in your hands. The proverb comes to life through a man named Onesiphorus. In 2 Timothy 1: 15-18 we see this merciful friend seeking out the prisoner Paul, and ministering to his needs despite all the obstacles. Others had abandoned Paul; Onesiphorus seeks him out. Others wanted to help Paul, but weren’t willing to risk their reputation on an enemy of the state. Onesiphorus wasn’t ashamed of Paul’s chains. Others were closer to Paul, but Onesiphorus went to Rome and looked for him until he found him.

Third, accessibility: Here’s where the rubber meets the road: when child one needs to be rushed to the ER, and you need someone to take children two through four, your aunt in Cleveland cares about you and would gladly help you, but she is simply too far away to do so. Because of situations like this, God tells you to depend on your friends in a striking way: don’t lean on your distant family, lean instead on your close friends. The key component of accessibility is proximity – you need to be near people in order to be of any use to them. Close friends are not only relationally close, but spatially close. This brings us full circle back to the first building block of community – bodily presence, and the example of Jesus. Jesus left heaven and come to earth in order to be available to help us.

So remember these three points: first, don’t let go of your friends – think of Jonathan giving place to David, and David keeping the friendship alive through Mephibosheth. Second, depend on your friends in times of trouble – think of Onesiphorus ministering to Paul despite the obstacles. Third, be available to your friends – think of Jesus drawing near to redeem you. Really, in each of these areas, Jesus is your greatest friend. Jesus will never forsake you. You can go to Him in times of trouble. No friend can possibly be closer to you than Jesus. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Posted on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 by CJ Bowen