The Bible says in John 15:15, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”
Intimacy is found in true friendship. Friendship involves companionship. The Lord Jesus called His followers to be “with Him” (Mark 3:14). They became friends. We are called to be His companions.
Of course we all have people that we love and trust, and we desire to be with them. We feel safe in their love and trust. Our hearts can be opened to friends with confidence that they will not talk to someone else and try to harm us.
Do you need a friend? Then be a friend. If you are going to have friends, you must show yourself friendly (Proverbs 18:24).
Notice how the Lord dealt with this. He taught in John 15:16-17, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.”
It is a fascinating thing that God finds us as strangers and aliens and brings us in to be with Him, making us friends. We could not be further removed. We could not be more alienated from God. We could not be more distanced as strangers. Yet the Lord Jesus brings us in and makes us friends.
Why do we not do this? We must find people who are strangers and bring them in to be friends! It requires compassion, and that costs. It requires confidence, and we want to hide. We live selfish lives, but it requires companionship and time spent.
I know that my sons are, of course, my children, and I thank God for that; but I want us also to be friends. I know that my wife is my wife, and she and I have a special relationship as husband and wife; but I want to be her friend and her my friend. My grandchildren are my grandchildren; but I truly want to be their friends.
It requires compassion on both parts. It requires confidence. It requires companionship. There are many families that are not friends. How sad!
While going through a recent physical trial, my grandson said to me, “Papa, I know you are praying for me, and I believe God is going to take care of whatever is wrong with me.” I am glad he and I can talk about that and pray for each other as friends.
I am grateful for my salvation. I know I am saved. I know heaven is my home, and I do not worry about that. If you find me dead somewhere, you can know that my body is lying there, but I am with the Lord Jesus. This is because of God’s mercy. But the journey to heaven it so much sweeter, more enjoyable, with friendship. Has anyone ever said to you, “You are the best friend I have ever had in my life”? Have you ever thought of someone else, “This person is the best friend I have ever had in my life.” We must work at it.
The Lord Jesus continues in John 15:16, “…that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” When we have this relationship of intimacy and companionship, we have a greater knowledge of God; and with that understanding, we ask the Lord for things in prayer.
One thing that changed my life was my friendship with Curtis Hutson. He was a great pastor. As a twenty-two-year-old young man, I was driven from East Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia, because some men wanted me to see what the Lord was doing in the great Forest Hills Baptist Church. It stirred my heart.
Then he and I became friends. I was working for Dr. Roberson at the Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, and he came to preach in special meetings there. Dr. Roberson gave him to me to host. We had some of the most unusual soul-winning experiences together.
For the last fifteen years of his life, I had no closer friend than Dr. Curtis Hutson. He is in heaven now. He said something to me during his long fight with cancer that I know I shall never forget. He said, “Clarence, I am dying, and I know I am going to die. To finally know that you are dying changes your life like nothing else.”
Dear friend, let us live like dying people. I am not talking about being depressed. I am talking about not getting upset over every petty thing in the world, because we are not going to be here long.
Dr. Hutson said, “I want my life to be different. I want this to be the best time of my life.”
When he was at the end of his journey, I said to him, “Has God answered your prayer?”
He said, “Oh, yes, God has answered my prayer. I have been able to love more deeply and have more compassion. I have gotten more out of God’s Word. This has been the greatest time of my life.”
I am not saying that cancer did this; I am saying that dealing with cancer awakened something in the man.
You and I need that awakening! Will we ever wake up before we die? Will we remain frustrated about every frivolous thing on earth, or will we learn these great principles that Christ demonstrated in friendship: compassion, confidence, and companionship. We desperately need these things in our lives.