To make a disciple is to make a friend. As Jesus disciples were His friends, so my disciples should be my friends. The inability to make friends means an inability to make disciples which in turn hinders the multiplication of the kingdom of God.
The Western world-view tends towards a homogeneous oneness which has shaped its view of friendship. We absorb from our culture that a friend should be our age, look like us, come from a similar social/economic background, and share in our interests. This concept is illustrated in the legendary television show Friends. The characters were all from the same race, age and background. This perspective not only narrows our prospects for friends but it also limits the extent of what a friendship could be.
As the flight attendant broadens our perspective by reminding us that the nearest emergency exit may be behind us, so I need to be reminded to widen my field of view in friendship to include people who are younger, older, or different than I am. The friendship of Jonathan and David serves as such a reminder.
Jonathan was the oldest son of Israels king Saul.He was the crowned prince and a distinguished warrior when he first met David, who was as 17 year old sheep herder. Jonathan lived in palaces while David slept in fields. Jonathan was the oldest son, David the youngest.Jonathan was married, and David single. Jonathan was respected while David had lived with ridicule from his family. Although setting dates in ancient history is difficult, we can approximate that Jonathan was 20 years older than David.
Jonathan is my hero. He lives counter to his surroundings and upbringing. His father was an angry, violent, irrational, and self-serving man. While his other siblings were products of their environment, Jonathan rises above the fray and gives us an example of what a Godly man and friend should be.
Here are some closing thoughts on friendship:
- Broaden your search for a friend. Your new friend may be 20 years older or 20 years younger than you are and not look anything like you.
- Friendships are made. You may have to teach your friend how to be a good friend just as Jonathan taught David.
- Read the story of Jonathan and Davids friendship (1 Samuel 18 through 2 Samuel 1) from the perspective of Jonathan being 20 years older than David and that their friendship covered 13 years.