“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Our veterans and armed forces members may understand this idea better than anyone. Friendship is taken to a whole new level. King Solomon said that “there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”
Is it any wonder that “band of brothers,” though originating with Shakespeare, so well defines our servicemen and women?
One of my all-time favorite movie scenes occurs in Tombstone.
“Why you doin’ this Doc?”
“Because Wyatt Earp is my friend.”
“Friend? Hell, I got lots of friends.”
We all want a friend like Doc Holiday—someone with unquestionable loyalty willing to sacrifice anything for our well-being, even his own life.
In the “Gates of Fire, An Epic Novel of The Battle of Thermopylae,” Dienekes asks his young protégé, Alexandros, “Have your instructors taught you why the Spartans excuse without penalty the warrior who loses his helmet or breastplate in battle but punish with loss of all citizenship rights the man who discards his shield?” He answers, “Because a warrior carries helmet and breastplate for his own protection, but his shield for the safety of the whole line.” In our quest for self-preservation, self-promotion and self-advancement, is there any room left for real friends?
Facebook has now limited your maximum number of friends to 5,000. Thankfully, this has not become an issue for me because I only have 315, although admittedly, I haven’t been the most active of users. My kids and I are four years younger in my profile picture, and I’ve averaged about one post a year. While advancements in technology have enhanced our quality of life in many ways, danger lurks behind artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the rise of the metaverse. To what extent will this technology subvert human relationships and intimacy? While Johnny 5, R2D2 and C3PO made indelible impressions on me as a child, technology has its limitations.
Growing up, my sister always impressed me with her friendships.
She never seemed to choose her friends based on popularity or what she might gain from them. She more often tried to be a friend than need a friend. Sometimes I joke that aside from my 315 Facebook friends, I don’t have that many, certainly not as many as my sister, and nowhere near my wife. She has friends everywhere, and if it weren’t for her, I’d have even fewer. However, I have a handful that sticks closer than a brother. Without their ongoing wisdom, counsel, accountability, encouragement, and prayers, there would be far less joy in my life.
How do you define a friend?
Are they objects to be used for personal gratification or people to be blessed because of their intrinsic worth?
Before answering that question, examine your heart and reflect on your friendships. What are your relationships built on? CS Lewis, in his book, “The Four Loves,” argues that friendship is the most underrated and underappreciated type of love. Of the four—friendship, affection, charity, and eros, any random tv show, movie, or current song will illustrate the one our culture tends to value most. Perhaps this little blog post will inspire you to elevate the value of friendship.
Be the type of friend you want to attract.
Serve. Empathize. Empower. Forgive. Encourage. Defend. Lift up in Prayer. You don’t have to lay down your life in death. You can also lay it down in life. That is what a real friend does.