According to Aristotle there are two primary reasons for having friends. Either we profit from them or derive pleasure from being with them. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to gain both profit and pleasure in a relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes we find pleasure in another’s company but it costs us. Usually that kind of friendship rarely lasts. Pleasure in another often exists because of common interests. Pilots love to exchange flying stories and chess players enjoy explaining complicated moves. How can I exchange any meaningful conversation with the Maker of All Things? He knows everything and I am woefully ignorant.
Keeping this in mind I have asked the question why does Jesus call us His friends? I grew up singing “What a friend we have in Jesus.” I know what I gain from Him. I get freedom from guilt resulting from His forgiveness. I get to shed this mortal body that is quickly going to ruin. I get to live forever with a ticket to unimaginable growth. But what does He get from me? That question puzzles me for most of the reasons I give myself are purely egotistical and ultimately meaningless. If He does not gain from my friendship then He must take pleasure in me. But how is that? I must confess I do not enjoy the company of those whose behavior is obnoxious. I must be obnoxious to Him.
Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.” Surely that joy is because by His sacrifice the universe is cleansed from sin and ultimately at-one-ment, but to be my friend? I am puzzled!
Written by Roger Bothwell on July 4, 2008
Spring of Life Ministry, PO Box124, St. Helena, CA 94574