A parent, a godly mom can set the direction for our lives by helping wash away some of the unholy habits in our lives, but the things mother’s harp on go beyond our habits…
My Mom Harped on Friends—Did your mom ever ask you who you were hanging out with, where you were going, who was going to be there? Motherly wisdom when it comes to friends can range from profound to downright practical—“You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you cannot pick your friend’s nose.” Hanging out at my best friend’s house offered more of the profound, his mother, bless her heart, wanted each of her children to remember that who they hung out with made a difference in their life, so she nailed a plague over their door which read: “Return home with honor!” We find that even in the life of the Messiah, friendship became a focus, remember John 15, 3 chapters away from his arrested and eventually crucified he told his disciples, “(15)-I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from the Father I have made known to you.”
There are no Lone Rangers—no One Man Shows—even Jesus realized that incarnate required interdependence not independence. Never did he disengage from those in need, but he made sure he was invested with those who would move the mission forward. We need each other and that is okay. We are reminded when we get sick, end up in the hospital, got a chronic condition. He was never going to reach everyone, and so his strategy is relational—his friendships become the means of fostering fruitfulness.
We’ve probably all had relationships that drew us in the wrong direction–The coworker that stokes the fire of frustration with your marriage, the friend who starts the train of gossip down the tracks, the of friends who go out to eat and you feel your financial peace getting crushed. The buddy where one beer is never just one.
The reverse is also true! After graduating from college, I was kind of aimless. Direction wasn’t coming easy. One second, I thought about the military, another moment I thought about political office, another moment working for John Deere despite my lack of agriculture, the next moment I thought about buying a Taco Bell franchise, and it was there where a friend, who happened to be a pastor, started to guide me in a new direction. It started with a question, “Have you ever thought about seminary?” Yet, the friendship didn’t stop there, he got me into his car and drove the 2:45 minutes to Lincoln for seminary, took me to lunch afterwards to pick my brain, and then throughout the semester he encouraged me…Even after sitting through a foreign language class that looked like Hebrew, well it was Hebrew, he gave me that pep talk in week 13 when I was pretty sure I was going to die…the world was crashing down.
Pastor, author, and Professor J.K. Jones said that if you want to grow you need to answer four questions: 1. Will this friend stand by me? 2. Will this friend tell me the truth? (in love) 3. Will this friend keep confidence? 4. Will this friend cause me to love God more? And you wondered why your mom cared so much about who you spent time with!
Jesus shows us just how far friendship should really drive us declaring: (John 15:13) Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Christ allowed himself to be cut down, in order to stand with us, to stand for truth, to keep us in the close confidence of God, and to draw us into the likeness of what we were originally made. Jesus came as a friend to the sick, a friend to the sinner, a friend to the rejected. It is the Good News that stands apart, Jesus love drove him to live and die with us in mind.