Simple friendship is underrated across the board. Of course what that friendship is like will depend on the relationship, be it a parent and child, spouses, workers, members of a local church, etc. I don’t think much good will get done until people are not just friendly, but actual friends. Hospitality is not as much a gift as a virtue to be pursued by all Christians, according to the New Testament. Though there is surely a gift to some in that, as well.

Jesus had a close relationship with the Twelve, and it seems perhaps a closer relationship with Peter, James and John, the latter called “the one who Jesus loves.” It was a friendship based on commitment: to the Lord and in that, to each other in mission to the world. People are not meant to do it alone. Jesus could have, and anyone can, actually. And there are times when that is necessary: Jesus on the cross, one prime example. But by and large we are in this life together, evident in a number of ways in scripture, in love to each other, as well as to others.

A spirituality, or better put, a Holy Spirit led existence which does not make friendship one central aspect of life, is surely missing out on an essential for life and mission, indeed for the life that is in Jesus. Friendship meets the other where they are at, available to touch wounds for healing. Churches which are healthy will be strong in the area of friendship without excluding outsiders.

While following Jesus is central, the Christian life too often has been made to be one’s encounter with God through Jesus, period. Friendship is not adequately considered a part of the new life in Jesus. God’s love in Jesus is seen to be enough in a way that excludes others. Whenever I read or hear someone say God’s love is all we need, I either accept that with qualifications, or more likely, I cringe. No, God has made it so that we need each other in Jesus.

The heart of sin is that it divides in breaking relationships. The heart of the gospel of reconciliation is that God’s love in Christ restores relationship between God and people, and people to each other. Not everyone is going to be friends on the same level. David and Jonathan had a special bond of friendship, and we will be closer to some than others. The point is that we in Jesus are all to be friends. Committed that way, and growing in that. As we reach out to bring others into this restored humanity of love in Jesus.