Jesus said; Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 KJV
We were made to be with each other and with God and to all love one another. But you don’t need me to tell you what a tall order that can be. Because although generally, people want to get on with others, friendships and relationships can be fraught with misunderstandings and falling outs.
Not many people long to be a hermit, and because we all need to be loved and accepted. We have multiple relationships, this can be in family, work, and neighbours. But it often does not work out well because humans can be brutal with each other.
Good friendships are a vital part of our existence, sacred even. Nothing is better than seeing old friends and family we have not seen for ages. Catching up on each other’s news is fulfilling and life-enhancing. It reinforces our personal identity and all that we stand for.
Relationships, of course, are not just personal but developed between companies, governments, and other organisations and institutions, nationally and internationally. These relationships are mutually beneficial when working well but are also liable to crack and break for various reasons, and the outcome can be disastrous when this ends in war.
Jesus taught his followers how to have good friendships with each other.
The Church has the ultimate example of friendship in the teachings of Jesus, and today’s world can learn much from it.
Many of his parables were based on the principle of love for one another, he mirrored that love in his relationship with his disciples. There was a good reason why he taught the lessons of loving our neighbour by turning the other cheek and going the extra mile in relations with others. It was because Jesus knew that friendships are a vital part of the intricate tapestry of our lives. The better and more fulfilling our relationships, the more complete our lives will be.
A network of healthy relationships requires breaking down the barriers between people of class, ethnicity, age, ability, educational achievements and physical and mental health. There are few places where people with such a vast difference in circumstance come together in unity. But for all its faults, this can be seen in the Church today. We meet many people in our churches who we would never usually come into contact with in the name of Christ, and share bread with them.
In an ideal world, this mirrors God’s divine purpose of bringing heaven and earth and those who love him together as one.
What does this mean for us today?
We must treasure the good friendships we have with one another and nurture and nourish them. Overlook minor things, and love one another as Jesus taught. Look to the long vision of our eternal hope in Jesus, and be kind to one another.
A good life is achieved through a wide network of friends. When we seek friends across the difference of age, culture, education, race, mobility (and every difference in between), we enrich our lives as we do the lives of others.
Where a relationship seems irreparably broken, barriers can be broken down, and friendship repaired when we keep Christ’s teachings at the centre of our communications.
Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus, for they will be called children of God; Matthew 5:9, NRSA.