By Pauline Akello
Friends play a vital role in our lives. They provide us with emotional support, a shoulder to lean on and lifelong memories.
But have you ever stopped to think about the type of friend you are?
Are you dependable, kind, and there for your friends through thick and thin? Or do you only show up when it is convenient for you? What would your friends say about you?
As Christians, it is important to reflect on the type of friends we are and how our faith influences our relationships with others.
Being a friend is a central part of being a follower of Jesus and living out our faith.
We are called to love one another and to show the love of Jesus to those around us. But what does it mean to be a good friend from a Biblical perspective?
Friendship means the bond between people where they share each other’s feelings and challenges, spend time together, celebrate victories and make history together.
The way two or more people are connected, and how they behave towards each other could be competitive or controlling, aggressive or accommodating, or even disconnected and parallel.
Yet what we desire most is balanced connections. Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Apio Janet Murungi, a Psycho-social consultant, says supporting and lending a helping hand in moments of need are a demonstration of friendship.
“People have to walk a journey together where they share their lives and support one another.”
The wide-ranging types of friendship include: acquaintances, social friends and intimate friends.
Through these categories, we experience what Aristotle helped distinguish as friendships of pleasure, utility and of virtue.
We build friendships based on our needs and values. If we need fun and pleasure, we embrace it when it comes our way.
If it happens to be guidance and mentorship, you will see the trajectory of virtue and accountability, and so forth.
Proverbs 27:9: “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”
Carl Awana, a law student at Makere University, says his journey with friendship has been through the wise counsel from good friends whom he has walked with since high school.
Is there a difference between friendship in the world and friendship in the body of Christ? After all, we generally have the same needs, love support and guidance.
Ultimately, in the Christian life, the fundamental purpose of friendship is not to bring us satisfaction and success in the world.
It is to help us grow together in Christ so that we might together enjoy friendship with God and the saints in Heaven.
We have to confess that we have not been very good at loving one another within the Church.
We often fight and argue, yet disagreement and argument are not always a sign of the absence of love, but signs of love-in-progress; signs that we are trying to learn to love one another, and it is hard.
Often, you will be asked what qualities a good friend possesses. To love one another is probably the most famous saying of Jesus.
It is also probably the most difficult to put into practice. Yet Jesus commands his disciples to love one another as a sign of God’s presence among them for those outside the Church.
Being a good Christian friend requires us to reflect the love and character of Jesus in our relationships.
By being compassionate, encouraging, honest, and serving, we can show others the love of Jesus and bring them closer to Him.
Let us strive to be the best friends we can be, while reflecting the love of Jesus in all we do.
The Bible says a good friend will “Stick closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) and a close neighbor (friend) is better when calamity strikes than a brother who is far away (Proverbs 27:10).
Awana says our friendships in Christ keeps us accountable. The measure of a good friendship comes from the giving you offer to the person and the currency in which you receive the same.
He further adds that checking on those you may have lost touch with is a good way to offer support even if a good while has passed.
When we spend time with others who are pursuing the Lord, their passion, love, and example encourage us in our journeys.
The opposite is also true. When we spend most of our time with people who are not pursuing righteous living, we can begin to suffer the harm that their choices bring about.