When I was growing up, my best friend lived in another town, so our times together were extra special. Can you imagine two giggling girls trying to cut up a chicken (we ended up with pieces that chicken never knew it had), or making up funny stories or staying up late into the night talking about boys and dreams and life? Our shared experiences forged a strong bond between us that continues to this day even though we live several states apart. We know and understand things about each other that others don’t. As a child, I often felt as if I didn’t fit in anywhere, but I knew I had a friend who accepted me as I was and that was extraordinarily comforting to me.
We are often taught that we need to look to God to meet the needs of our hearts, and this is true. But God did not make us to walk alone through this world. From the very beginning, we were meant to live in fellowship – with others as well as with God.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tells us we are stronger together — two can defend themselves and support each other.
The story of David and King Saul’s son Jonathan, in I Samuel 18-20, is a good illustration of friendship. They encouraged each other and enjoyed each other’s company. Even when Saul wanted to kill David, Jonathan found ways to protect him. Because of this, David showed kindness to Jonathan’s crippled son.
Jesus chose 12 disciples during his earthly ministry, but Peter, James and John became his three closest friends. They were the ones he took with him when he went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Think about it — the creator of the universe wanted friends nearby at his darkest hour.
There are examples throughout the New Testament of how Christians are to live in community. Acts 2:42-47 describes a little of how that community looked. Paul describes the church as the body of Christ, as a living organism with interdependent members.
But somehow, perhaps in the rugged individualism that American culture celebrates, we’ve forgotten that we are one body, that we need each other.
Not everyone experiences the sort of romantic love we celebrate on Valentine’s Day. But we can all know the love and friendship of our fellow members in the body of Christ. Jesus told his disciples that the mark of his followers would be their love for one another (John 13:34-35).
So this month I hope you’ll look for ways to be a friend to someone and to participate in the community of Christ. Because that’s how we’re meant to live.