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The Nature of Friendship

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Friendships, a state of mutual trust and support between two people, built by powerful choices that welcome people into our lives simply because we want to. St. Augustine suggested that choosing people as friends who we believe to be better than us makes us better people. Willa Cather, through the title character of her book, My Antonia, simply said this of friendship: “Ain’t it wonderful how much people can mean to each other.”


It is a Biblical concept, this sense of connection to each other that can be described as deep affection, respect, admiration, and love. In describing Jesus, each gospel writer allows a great teacher, prophet, and savior to emerge. Mark 1: 29-39 shows Jesus as healer. We also see him as a friend.

“As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So, he went to her, took her hand, and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So, he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

Simon, Andrew, James, and John were among the first disciples Jesus called to follow him. Upon arrival at Simon and Andrew’s home, Jesus is immediately told that Simon’s mother-in-law is ill with a fever. Will he help her? Jesus goes to her, holds her hand, and helps her up. Sometimes that’s what we need most from a friend. She feels better, well enough to resume her role as hostess for the evening.

Later that evening, after sunset, people begin to show up at the door seeking healing for themselves. Rather than feel imposed upon, having their gathering interrupted, Jesus’ hosts welcome the whole town and support their friend in his work which is now becoming their own work. Sometimes friends have every right to feel inconvenienced, but they often surprise us by not feeling inconvenienced at all.

Very early the next morning, searching out and finding Jesus in a secluded place to which he had gone to pray, the disciples also nudge him along, reminding him that there is even work to do. People are looking for him. He is needed. Jesus seems reluctant to leave the private moment he had created for himself, but he agrees, saying, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Sometimes friends are relentless in reminding us who we are and getting us back on track, even when we might like a little more time to ourselves.

Not only was Jesus a good friend, he also had good friends around to help him. That’s what friends do. We invite each other into our lives. We ask for and give each other help when we need it. And we are all the better for it.

About the Author

Photo of The Rev. Cory L. Kemp.

Photo courtesy of The Rev. Cory L. Kemp.

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp is founder and faith mentor with Broad Plains Faith Coaching. Cory, employing her signature Handcrafted Faith program, supports ordained and lay women leaders in visualizing, understanding and strengthening their beliefs, so that they may know, love and serve God and their communities with generosity, wisdom, and joy.

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