- All of us value true and authentic friendships.
- But sometimes we think that’s the best we can really hope for when it comes to friendship.
- The Bible talks about a different kind of friendship, a kind of friendship that is so much better. It’s actually deeper and more enriching.
- This type of friendship was exemplified by Jesus in His relationship with His disciples. We can see this especially in John 15:15-17.
- How does this type of friendship compare with the usual type of friendship that we have experienced and we often long for?
- It is God-centered.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you
- It is intentional.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you…
- It is growth-oriented.
…and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last…
The purpose of spiritual friendship according to Jesus is growth, or in His words, fruitfulness. We join together with others in faith so that we can help each other grow in our spiritual lives. We seek to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, to become more like Him. We also want to reach out to others so that we can invite them to join us in our journey of faith.
Those of us who are eager to grow in our faith must seek spiritual friendships. Without them, we will not grow and bear fruit, for we will only see what we want to see about ourselves. Only spiritual friends can help us identify our blind spots.
- It is focused on prayer.
…and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
Jesus sees faith-filled prayer as the visible result of His spiritual friendship with His disciples. He expects them to grow in their prayer lives. He taught them by word and example how to deepen their trust in their heavenly Father through prayer. This they eventually learned as a result of His spiritual friendship with them over time.
Many Christians today do not prioritize prayer. They are often practicing atheists, even though they profess to believe in God. Spiritual friendships can help us grow in the area of prayer if we know how to influence each other toward godliness.
Do your friends model for you how to prioritize prayer? Are your times together characterized by prayer and communion with God? Are you growing in your experience of God because of the influence of your friends?
- It is grounded in love.
17 This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus commanded His disciples to love each other. This is another distinctive of spiritual friendship. Love, as Jesus exemplified it in His life and ministry, is not about having warm feelings, etc. It’s about being committed to pursuing what is good for another person. It demands sacrifice, and sometimes even pain and suffering. Jesus showed His love by dying on the cross for the sins of the world.
In ordinary friendships, people remain with each other because they like each other. When positive feelings disappear, or when there is sin or failure, their friendships suffer. Not so with spiritual friends. Spiritual friends stick with each other regardless of the situation, to help each other through the ups and downs of faith.
Are your friendships characterized by real love, first for God and then for each other? Are you willing to practice tough love for each other the same way Jesus did with His disciples?
GROUP DISCUSSION (30 minutes)
- What have you learned about spiritual friendship today?
- Based on what you have learned, how would you rate your current friendships?
- How can you transform your ordinary friendships into spiritual friendships?