Holy FriendshipsBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Friendship is a serious affection; the most sublime of all affections, because it is founded on principle and cemented by time. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797)
My father once said to me, “Friends come and go, but family lasts forever,” and the words had a profound impact on a 20-year-old kid trying to find his place in the world. Decades later, as I move through life, I cling to family ties and view friendships as fleeting links along life’s winding way.
Now just back from my 30th high school reunion, I wonder at how much I allowed that advice to color my perspective. Not having seen most of my classmates for three decades, I didn't know what to expect. What I found was a warm and welcoming crowd—a group of middle-aged men and women—the great preponderance of whom are negotiating life’s trials with peace, dignity, and hope. I felt a growing respect for my old friends and was encouraged by them.
Einstein was right: the passing of years meant next to nothing. We embraced. We probed. We reminisced. We laughed, cajoled, and encouraged one another as we formed new memories.
What we had years ago and still possess is a special bond and sincere mutual admiration. Affection and love—holy friendship—form deep connections.
Holy means associated with the divine . . . sacred, hallowed. Yet for some reason these words fail to affect us today. Hallowed rings hollow. The American Heritage Dictionary defines sacred as “dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity. Worthy of respect; venerable.” Hallowed means to respect or honor greatly—to revere. That describes these friendships: things set apart and worthy of respect.
Friendships like these are uncommon and to be cherished: this group of people in a particular place, at a particular time, sharing life’s joys and trials. Their perseverance gives the world a glimpse of the Holy.
Our ancestors’ faith encourages us to be the church in our worlds. Church is about carrying our faith into our various communities of influence—family, friends, job, etc. It means men and women on highways, in offices, schools, and malls struggling with life’s day-to-day issues—always grounded in the faith given to us through Christ.
It is right to give thanks for the strength that helps us endure and for the grace that forges holy friendships that sustain us. We can’t explain exactly why, but we are grateful for these friendships that are true.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 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. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.John 15:12-17 NIV