The Biblical Storyline of Friendship
Friendship is a whole-Bible theme. You can summarize it this way:
In the beginning, we walked with God in friendship. But then we walked away. Now, God is befriending us again.
This story flows from the heart of God himself. Before there ever was a story of redemption, there was God—eternally existing in the triune fellowship of love. Out of the overflow of his goodness, he created us in his image for friendship with himself and with one another. God is committed to restoring true friendship—both with himself and with one another.
But then sin entered the world and fractured all of our relationships. Our friendship with God was broken and our friendship with one another was broken. But from that point onward, we see that God is committed to restoring true friendship—both with himself and with one another.
The Restoration of True Friendship
Throughout the Old Testament, we see God committing to restore true friendship. First, we see glimpses of the restoration of friendship with himself. We see people like Enoch and Noah walking with God. That phrase is a metaphor for friendship. Abraham is explicitly called a “friend of God.” The Bible says that Moses spoke with God “face to face, as a man speaks with a friend.”
We also see glimpses of restored friendship at a horizontal level. Think of David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi. As the storyline of the Bible progresses, we see Israel spiraling downward. They fundamentally rejected God and one another as true friends. The Old Testament ends with a longing for the restoration of the lost friendship of Eden.
When we turn to the New Testament, we see Jesus enter the scene as the great friend of sinners—befriending and eating with sinners, restoring people to God. We see him doing this through an act of friendship. He said: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Community and the Eternal Hope of Friendship
So Jesus laid down his life for people—in friendship—to bring them back into relationship with God. And now, for those who trust in Jesus, we find ourselves not only restored in friendship to God, but in a community of people who are also friends of God. We have great potential for friendship with one another. We also have a mission to invite other people to be reconciled to God in friendship. As we look out ahead at the world to come, we see a new creation where we’ll live forever with our great friend and all of his friends who are now our friends, too. The future is a world of friendship.
Before there ever was a world, there was friendship with God, and our future eternal life will be a world of friendship.
This is a guest article by Drew Hunter, author of Made for Friendship: The Relationship that Halves Our Sorrows and Doubles Our Joys. This post originally appeared on crossway.org; used with permission.
Drew Hunter (MA, Wheaton College) is the teaching pastor at Zionsville Fellowship in Zionsville, Indiana. He previously served as a minister for young adults at Grace Church of DuPage and taught religious studies at College of DuPage. Drew and his wife, Christina, live in Zionsville, Indiana, and have four children.