‘…love one another.’

Friendship is invaluable, and Jesus is the greatest friend we could have.

And yet it’s easy for me to say this, easy for me to tell you what I have learnt in a nice neat sentence. But I want to show you that this is what I have experienced, to show you that friendship isn’t always easy, but that it truly is worth the fight, to show you how Jesus is an ongoing support, security and comfort, the one who will bring out the very best in us.

And so here I will take what I said in my last blog, ‘As I have loved you…’, and actually look at my experience in this one, ‘…love one another.’ I will show how I have tried, through struggles, to take hold of God’s love and show it to others.

When looking at friendship, it may be easy for us to turn away from ourselves, to look at others in our lives, even to think on how ‘good’ a friend they are. But, having learnt the truth of my sin, I want to look inwards, to reflect on how much of my effort, my love and my being I have put into my friendships. I have gone wrong many a times, I have missed opportunities to love, to care, to fulfil the role of a friend that I myself have selfishly expected.

My time at secondary school was hard. I had left primary school, where I had a group of loving friends, and yet I found myself, within a couple of years to have lost contact, to have cut myself off. Granted, I wasn’t alone, I had made new friends. And yet still I found secondary school very hard. I felt myself to be very shy, anxious of what others thought of me, and anxious to speak out to anyone. I found forming and keeping friendships very hard and at points made myself quite lonely. And yet I see now that shyness wasn’t the main problem, that on forming friendships my confidence grew. It was the fact that I was looking for a friendship with support and security that this world could not give me.

And yet, looking back, I see that however lonely I made myself feel, there were friends that stuck by me through times when I wouldn’t have judged them if they were to simply walk away.

And as I began sixth form, with the hope of greater confidence and less self inflicted seclusion, I realise now that I made the same mistake. Having struggled in my years at secondary school, I saw sixth form as an opportunity to start again. This meant that I unfairly withdrew from most of the friendships I had made. I thought selfishly, I did not think of the value of friendship, of how was in a position to give this wonderful, though perhaps damaged thing, to somebody else.

And yet at sixth form I was welcomed by a group of kind and open-minded friends. It was at sixth form that I became particularly close to Kez and Beth, at sixth form that I began to learn about their faith, that we began to talk about Jesus. And as I went to university with Beth, as we began to go to The Globe Church, and my own faith began to grow, I began to see that God had given me my best friends, that though them He had called me too Himself, had called me home.

And when I realised this, I realised how amazing friendship could be, how it was through my wonderful friends that God showed me the gospel and how this could be a role that I was called to fulfill. As a Christian I may be the only person in someone’s life with the opportunity to show them Jesus, and how could I possibly throw this opportunity away?

At University I have been blessed with a great number of wonderful friends. They have welcomed me , accepted me, have helped me to grow in confidence and love alike. And I have tried, ever more desperately to show God’s love to each and every friend that He has given me, though I know that I do not have the capacity, the strength, to show everything.

And yet, we should not expect perfect love from our friends, from anyone, just as we cannot give perfect love. Because no human can fulfil the role of a perfect friend. We live in a broken, fallen world. Each of us is sinful and therefore relationships can’t be perfect. They too are broken. And yet this is not a cause for despair. As C.S. Lewis reminds us in Mere Christianity:

The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and , therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

God’s love is more than a feeling, it is a consistent and unending truth. Whilst we may waver, may forget our love, God created love.

He created us because he loves us, gave his only son in our place because he loves us, has forgotten our sins because he loves us.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Through the Jesus’ resurrection, God has shown us that death has been overcome, that he welcomes us to eternal life, because he loves us. And in light of this how can we refuge such a caring command:

As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

Jesus laid down his life for us, and here, as he talks to his followers of his soon departure from this world, he calls them, calls us to at least show a fraction of the sacrifice he has given us. And yet I know that I have not done this. I do not deserve Jesus’ love, nothing I have done or could do would achieve it, it is given freely. A love that knows no selfishness, no resentment, a love that we must try to follow, if only by a few weak footsteps.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13

Jesus gave his life so that he could know us, so that we may receive eternal life with him. He offers a friendship that he died for. He suffered the weight of the world’s sin on that cross, simply because he loved us. And he is not hiding from us, waiting for us to find him, he has called us, has reached out his hand. And to have such a beautiful, undying friendship, we need only welcome him into our lives. We need only put our hand in his, and follow him. And perhaps in turn reach out our hand