Need a Good Friend? Try Jesus
by Amy Schmitz Ruiz
Throughout my life I have had several best friends. When I think back to early childhood, those were the people with whom I played Barbies, rode bikes, had sleepovers, ate lunch, and played with on the playground at school. As I grew, my best friends were my friends in band, choir, and drama with whom I traveled, hung out after school, and stayed up late over long conversations. In college, they were the people who became like family; sharing meals, taking long walks just to talk, and doing homework together over an episode of Friends. Friendships and activities change, but the need for relationship is always there—it is part of how God designed us when He made us in His image.
In my opinion, the essentials of what makes a good friend includes: a mutual relationship of trust, sharing life and spending time together, listening, helping, giving, and supporting one another. One is blessed to have such a friend, but maybe you’ve experienced (as I have) those times when friendships seemed few and far between. Oh, there were people I would interact with at work or school, but no one I considered as a ‘best’ friend to call up when there was a need or could rely on in that special way.
Proverbs 18:24 tells us, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers.” Through my lonelier years, I began to learn that the best and most loyal friend I could ever have, the kind of friend spoken of in this proverb, is Jesus. Jesus himself said in John 15:12-15, “My commandment is this: love one another, just as I have loved you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” Jesus is essentially declaring himself our ultimate friend who even laid down His life for us!
Even though scriptures tell us that Jesus is a friend, it took me a time to realize what that meant and embrace all that it entails. Jesus obviously showed friendship to His disciples when eating with them, traveling with them, sharing thoughts and ideas, prayer times, and deep fellowship with them. But for me, the first thing about Jesus that came to mind was Jesus the Savior who died for my sins. Not that it is wrong to think that way; after all, that is indeed a key aspect of who Jesus is, but I needed to get beyond that to see the full relationship Jesus was offering. When I only saw Jesus as my Savior, it kept my relationship with Him more formal and at an arm’s distance. Could I actually have a relationship with Jesus in the same way the disciples did so long ago?
Eventually, I went from more formal prayers of praise and petition to seeing Jesus as a friend I could talk to about everything. As I drove in my car, I envisioned Jesus sitting beside me and would just talk to Him like I would another friend—telling Him about my day, things I was looking forward to, what was making me anxious, asking for advice, and just talking candidly. I found as I moved away from more formal prayers to having an ongoing conversation with a friend, I became closer and more in tune with God. I found myself asking Jesus about the mundane such as, “Did I forget an ingredient in this recipe?” to the hard struggles of life like, “How can I possibly forgive this person who’s harmed me so badly?” Jesus became part of my day all day long. I was beginning to eat with Jesus, travel with Jesus, and share life with Jesus throughout the day, not just at church or during a morning devotional. Like the disciples experienced, Jesus became a part of my daily life. He has become the friend who is there no matter what and cares about every aspect of my life.
Jesus wants to be our Lord and Savior, but He also wants to be our best friend. I pray that you will find ways to see and feel Jesus throughout your day and know that He is there not only for the big stuff but also just to hang out and have fun with you, too. If He isn’t already, I hope He can become your best friend—the one you just can’t wait to spend time with every day!