When it comes down to it, there aren’t many people in the world who don’t value friendship immensely. Everybody understands that it is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Without friends, without people around us who are close to us and who know us, life is almost unbearable. Yet, it still seems, even though our hearts and minds are in the right place, our actions do not always correlate with how vital friendship is to our existence.
Life is distracting. We live in an efficient and fast-paced world and we all do what we have to in order to keep up. But in that rush of climbing ladders and building a productive life, how many sacrifices are we making in the pursuit of lifelong closeness with friends?
While most of us, at some point in our lives, will move to a new city, adopt a new routine, and put in extra hours for our careers, how many of us will ever do those things in order to preserve communion with friends? Not to single out career either, because it is an easy target a lot of the time. But what about romantic relationships, and family even? Both are hugely important, but friendship was never meant to be secondary to them in any way.
And if you’re finding it hard to really imagine what making sacrifices to maintain a lifelong bond with friends looks like, then look no further than Jesus’ life, ministry, and death. It’s true we rarely think about it in those terms— even if there are dozens of songs about how Jesus is our friend— but it’s the truth: Jesus lived a life centered on friends, and if we are to be like Jesus, then maybe we should start looking a little closer at our most fundamental priorities.
Friendship is either undervalued or misunderstood by every one of us on a daily basis. We constantly flitter back and forth between wanting connection, entertainment, validation, acceptance, happiness, and excitement, but friendship is more than any of those things put together. As C.S. Lewis said, very insightfully, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
There isn’t one particular reason we need friendship, but it is nonetheless the highest of callings. John Macmurray once said, “All meaningful knowledge is for the sake of action, and all meaningful action is for the sake of friendship.” Life is simply too short to sacrifice the commitment and beauty of truly discovering and sharing yourself, openly, without hesitation, and without regret, with someone who is equally honest and trusting of you. That’s what Jesus did, and all we can do is spend each day working a little harder to make it the priority in our lives as well, because, in the end, it might very well be the only thing of true value in all the world.
I suppose I can’t act like I speak for everyone when I say these things, and for all I know I could be the only one who’s still figuring it out, but all I’m certain of is that greater love does not exist than He who hung on a cross for His friends, and there is no higher calling than to love our friends in the same manner that Christ loves us.
Also, it just feels fitting to take a moment and say that “loving our friends in the same manner that Christ loves us” should not be the thing that we think is the final answer. In reality, that statement is more of a question, because every day we have to work to find out what it really means to love as Christ loves. Too often that phrase is a catch-all for a vague, shiftless, arbitrary type of lackluster emotion, but it can’t be that anymore. To love as Christ loves doesn’t mean being nice to people, and it doesn’t mean telling them about Jesus: it means cutting away all our doubts, insecurities, fears, and mistrusts so that we can sit across from another human being, look them in the eyes, and know what it feels like to be alive together.
- Norris Rettiger, Creative Writing Intern with Mississippi Matters, is 20 years old and attends college at Belhaven University. He is majoring in Creative Writing. When asked who he was, all he could say was that he "liked to party." His passions include making dated Batman vs. Superman jokes, quoting movies you've never seen, and occasionally writing things. At his nucleus are three beliefs: (1.) Your political views are pointless. (2.) Wonder Woman was most definitely not a good movie. (c.) Closure was invented by Steven Spielberg to sell movie tickets.