The English Poet, John Donne, in a line from his Meditations XVII, famously declared “No Man is an Island.” It seems, however, Americans are learning to live like it. According to a study in the June 2006 issue of the American Sociological Review, 25% of Americans have no close confidants.
This was not the original design. Our relationship with The Lord is purposed to be deeply connectional. And we are called to be in the thick of life with others. The Apostle John declares, in 1 John 1:3-4, that his reason for declaring Christ is so that others can share in the koinonia – or intimacy – with The Trinity and in the family of faith. That tight association all around completes our joy and our hope. Proverbs 27:17 declares that friendship is the vehicle The Lord uses to sharpen and mature us. Indeed, Jesus called His friends (those who choose to follow Him) closer than blood relatives.
We see 1 Samuel 18:1, 3-4 present a beautiful picture of the kind of friendship we should seek – manifested between the shepherd-turned-hero, David and the crown Prince, Jonathan. It can be difficult for modern readers not to put sexual connotations on top of these passages. But culturally speaking, Jonathan’s actions were born not only out of respect for David’s military prowess. If that was all the feeling he had for David, the bond would have been quite shallow.
Instead, they formed a deep connection. We would call them extremely close, best or even life-long friends. What sparked this was Jonathan’s view into David’s heart. He saw that they were not only of like mind and physical prowess; they both shared a love for The Lord. There is no greater pleasure, upon meeting someone, to find out that you not only have circumstances in common, but that you both love The Lord Jesus.
So Jonathan chose to serve David as king, over his father, Saul. It nearly cost him his life, as we see in 1 Samuel 20. That incident led to the two men parting ways for David’s safety. David had many years on the run ahead of him and he would never again see his friend alive. But there is a sweetness at the parting that implies they knew they would see each other again, either in this life or in the eternal. It is a connection that is proved through David’s treatment of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth.
Perhaps this was on Jesus’ mind in John 15:13. In having a close relationship with a fellow believer, you get a picture of what Christ means to love someone enough to give your life for them. Jesus is the ultimate example; so when He becomes our best friend, He wants us to demonstrate that love to another.
When we let someone in and find a friend in faith; grace and mercy abound. We can give The Lord no greater glory than to share in the lives of His Children – and end up better for having known them.