It began in kindergarten when every student in my daughter’s class was called “friend.” While the teacher attempted to develop the essential character traits of kindness and empathy, you could already hear the phrase, “You can’t be my friend if . . .” followed by “you talk to her” or “you sit by him” or whatever other standard five-year-old children set.
As we all live through our teenage years, we realize that friendships just get harder. They fluctuate rapidly, thanks to drama, mean people, clothing styles, interests, or the popular group. By the time we reach adulthood, it almost seems that we don’t expect to call many people “friend.”
We’d like it to be easier, but friendship is hard—because we’re all working with sinful people (including ourselves). So when I think about being Jesus’ friend, I think it might be easier. After all, he’s perfect. What’s so hard about being his friend? Well, to be his friend, he turns our focus back to the people around us: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:12-14).
That makes friendship even harder! To be called Jesus’ friend, we love others completely, sacrificially. We give, even when we’re hurt. We put aside our self-centeredness in order to serve. We lay down our lives because our friend Jesus laid down his.