In a world of social networks, the word “friend” gets thrown around a little too easily. With a simple mouse-click, we can become “friends.” We’ve even made it into a verb, an action that only exists in virtual space. But we weren’t the first to do this. Many languages, including Greek, have strong semantic relationships between verbs and nouns. Jesus and his disciples would have “friended” people a lot, especially according the John.
As we talked about last week, John uses agape and phileo to talk about love. He uses them as equals, synonyms. Well, the noun form of phileo, is philos, or “friend.” You could say, as in 5:20, that “the Father friends the Son.” Or Jesus might say in 16:27: “the Father himself friends you, because you have friended me.” But if we really meant by this what John’s Jesus meant, Facebook would be a very different place. And probably not quite so popular.
Love and friendship are not just semantically related. For John, they are in fact the same thing. So, this week, as we talk about friendship, remember what we have said about love, about giving one’s life for one another. And remember, too, what we have said about revelation. Friendship is the relationship in which we experience mutual self-giving and self-revelation. Friendship is the space in which we find out who God is and who we are.
Grace and Peace,
Our next series will be on social justice issues and I’m soliciting input. What issues matter to you? What are churches not addressing or addressing badly? What would you like to see a church doing to make the world better? Ideally, these won’t just be ideas for a series, but will shape the way we think about ourselves as a church and help us use our limited resources well. So please email ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.