Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. – Proverbs 18:24 MSG
We live in a culture that sees people as disposable.
We treat each other as commodities. Employees are now called resources or assets. The value of people is defined in monetary terms. As you can imagine, this very crass understanding of human beings seems to imply that people, once they no longer add to your bottom line, are disposable.
It’s not just in business that we treat people this way. When people are no longer helpful in accomplishing our personal goals, we will discard the relationship. When someone is not seen as being supportive of our agenda, then we will dispose of the friendship.
But true friends stick together no matter what—even when you mess up, even when you fail. These are the ones who will come and stand by and share the hurt, and yeah, even sometimes share the embarrassment of your failure.
I know you’re thinking a friend like that is rare indeed, few and far between. You are right, but if we are fortunate, all of us have at least one who we can count on to be there no matter what. This is the radical teaching of Jesus: God loves you no matter what. He won’t leave you no matter what. He’ll stick with you no matter what.
As you can imagine, this is a hard message for a lot of people to hear. It’s a harder message for some people to believe. The way they begin to believe it and the way they begin to understand it is when Christians stick with them no matter what. When we love them and when we’re their friend—regardless of what happened in their life—we begin to live out for them this determined friendship of God. It’s the same relationship from God that most of us know in our own lives. We become evidence of God’s faithfulness as we are faithful to our own friends.
So, how about it? Do you have a friend who needs a friend? Do you have a friend who needs you to stick with him no matter what?
Being that kind of friend to somebody may be the most powerful sermon you can preach to your friends. After all, in the words of E. Stanley Jones, a great Methodist missionary of the last generation, sometimes it’s better to be a sermon than to preach one.