The ideal Christian life is a personal friendship with Jesus Christ. Yet some persons have difficulty in understanding how a personal friendship can be formed with One Whom they cannot see, Whose voice they cannot hear, and Whose touch they cannot feel. But friendship with Christ is not dependent on sight or touch or hearing. He can make Himself known to our hearts in spiritual revealings. One saintly man said, “I know no other friend so well as I know Jesus Christ!”
We may find much in human friendship that will make friendship with Christ plain to us. It is more than mere acquaintance. There are many who have superficial ideas about friendship. They will talk to you about their “hosts of friends.” But no one can really have a host of friends! One minister used to say that he could fill the meeting-house with those who were friendly to him, but that the pulpit would hold all his friends. People tell you that this person and that one and the other are their friends. What they might truthfully say is that these persons are their acquaintances. They meet them now and then in business or socially, and their relationships are cordial and kindly. But that is not friendship! These relationships may simply be based upon something very beautiful, very charming, or very inspiring and helpful. Yes, friendliness does have its blessings. Acquaintanceship does have its cheer, its inspirations, and its influence in our lives. But friendship is something far deeper! It knits lives together closely and inseparably.
There are those who call themselves friends of Christ who likewise are little more than chance acquaintances. They only know Him in a superficial way, they are not bound to Him by any strong tie, and they easily drift away from Him. That is not friendship! You do not want your friend to be someone who is with you today and gone tomorrow. A friend is one who loves and does not cease to love. Christ loved His people unto the end. His ideal of friendship was “once a friend, always a friend.” If the friendship ceases or breaks, it never was a friendship in the first place. Friendship with Christ should carry the whole heart and life with it, and nothing should ever weaken it or wear it out. It should be close, tender, and personal. It is not enough to have a mere distant acquaintance with Christ; He wants us to be His heart-friends! It is not enough to know a great deal about Christ; we must know Him by personal knowledge.
One quality of true friendship is trust. Not only do you love to be with your friend; but in his presence, you have no fear. You do not have to be on your guard when you are with him, lest you say a word too much or too little. You have no fear that he will misunderstand you. Out in the world, you have to be most careful always; for sometimes those around you are watching to see something to criticize in you, or something to use against you. The enemies of Jesus watched Him to discover something with which to accuse Him. But there was none of this atmosphere of suspicion about Him when He went into the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus! The moment He entered that door, He was safe. He did not then need to be on His guard…
What could be more sacred than the comfort of feeling safe with a person – absolutely safe? That is the kind of friend Jesus is! You may always feel safe with Him, you may confess all your sins to Him, and you may tell Him all your faults and your failures – how you denied Him the other night, how you failed to be true to Him, and all the bad thoughts of your heart; and He will be just as tender and gracious as if you had never sinned! He loves unto the end.
None of us would want to have our hearts photographed and the picture held up before the eyes of our neighbors. We would not even want our best friends to see a full transcript of our secret life, and of all that goes on within us – the jealousies, the envyings, the bitter feelings, the stained thoughts, the meanness, the selfishness, the suspicions, the doubts, and the fears. Yet Christ sees all this unworthy inner life, and loves us still! We never need to be afraid to trust Him with the knowledge of the worst that is in us. We do not need to hide our weaknesses from Him. His friendship knows all and yet loves us better than we know! He never withdraws His love.
That is Christ’s side of the friendship. We may trust Him absolutely and forever. But how about our friendship for Him? Can He trust us as absolutely as we may trust Him? May He always be sure of finding us loyal and true, wherever we are? When He has placed us anywhere, at any post, to do any duty; may He know that He will find us there, whatever perils may sweep around us? Did you ever think that Christ trusts you and depends upon you? You trust Him, and you know that He will never fail you. Not one of His words can ever pass away. You may lean upon Him in time of danger, and He will sustain you and hold you up. But do you ever think that He trusts you also? Christ gives you a duty, and He depends upon you to perform it. He sets you to be His witness at some particular place, and He expects you to be loyal and faithful – even unto death! He sends someone to be guarded by you, cared for, guided, and protected. Are you always faithful to your trust?
In a great battle, a general blamed the defeat of his army upon one commander who failed to hold a certain point, as was expected of him. His failure compelled the whole army to retreat. Jesus sets each one of us to stay at a certain post, to hold it for Him. Our failure may bring disaster to some great plan. It may lead to the defeat of a whole division of His army, and the harming of His cause in a whole community. Christ trusts us and entrusts to us great interests and destinies. Let us never fail Him! We may always trust Him. But may He trust us always? Are His interests safe in our keeping?
It is precious indeed to be assured that our Lord Jesus is our truest Friend, and that we may feel absolutely safe and entirely open in our relationship with Him! But the thought of the reciprocal responsibilities that lie upon us, as Christ’s friends, is a very solemn one. Therefore, we would do well to take a moment to pray these words:
“Keep me in step with Thee, dear Lord, As upward, day by day, The way of holiness I tread, The new, the living way. Yes, keep me holy, cleansed, and filled, Walking in step with Thee; Kept for Thy use, and Thine alone, Thine all the praise shall be!”
Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts about friendship with Christ! Feel free to leave your reflections and questions in the Comments section below.
God bless you and your family, this day and always.
All for the King’s glory,
photo by AlisiaK on Lightstock.com
This post is another installment of Miller’s Monday Musings, a weekly series that is published every Monday on our website. The series features selected writings that have been adapted from the works of James Russell Miller (1840-1912), a much-beloved Christian author and pastor who is well-remembered for his practical thoughts on Christian home and family life. Learn more about this weekly series by clicking here.