In the second and the penultimate part of our series on the Biblical perspective of “friendship” today we focus on 2 more aspects of Friendship…
JPrince Jonathan entered into a covenantal relationship with the lowly Shepherd boy named David by symbolically donating his robe and armour (See1 Sam 18:1-4). In the same way, our Lord does the same thing when we receive Him as “Lord of our lives” (Rom 10:8-10 ) by entering into a covenantal relationship with us through a “donation” of His Holy Spirit, which He then deposits into our hearts (“and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” 2 Cor 1:22; See alsoEph 1:13-14).
It is by this marvellous arrangement that we see the regeneration of a christian, and that the Lord provides the christian the essential resources to fulfil the terms of their eternal covenant. And what is this eternal covenant? Simply put, is all about living as per His will at all times: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.“ (1 Cor 10:31 ESV).
While covering this subject, it would serve us well to understand the meaning of the word “covenant” and clearly distinguish it from the very similar term “contract”. Though these are thought by many to be synonyms, this could not be any further from the truth. While both words have conditions to be fulfilled between those who are tied to it, the word “contract” is usually used to typify an agreement between two parties of the same stature (e.g.: a building contract between the landowner and a building contractor). On the other hand, “covenant” signifies a binding agreement between two unequal parties, one of whom is surely greater than the other. While in the Biblical context, the agreements between that of a prince and a shepherd fits this definition. So does a marriage or a will left behind by a father. I think it would be safe to say that the relationship between a Saviour and a sinner also perfectly matches the definition of a covenant in the earthly realm.
Digging a little deeper into the covenant between Prince Jonathan and the shephard boy, David, we can observe that while Jonathan would frequently keep his promises even by putting his own life in danger at times (See1 Sam 20:1-34), David would fulfill his vows as well at the proper time by adopting Jonathan’s son named Mephibosheth as his own and granting him all the privileges that went along with it (See2 Sam 9). By the same token in our Saviour-Sinner covenant. Our eternal Saviour-Friend-Christ has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5b). we at no point of time, ought to turn our backs to Him (“but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Heb 10:39 ESV).
In response to the Saviour’s act of genuine friendship, it would serve us well to examine our own relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ–especially those who are new to faith. Our friendship should be marked by absolute humility (the ingredients of genuine love — See1 Cor 13:4-5), and even a lack of envy if by chance they were to, say, surpass us in our spiritual growth.
I believe that the Jonathan-David relationship can be easily compared to that of our Lord Jesus Christ and his “senior” in both age and ministry, John the Baptist. With the advent of David and Jonathan’s ever-growing bond, morale amongst the masses may have possibly dipped as a result. Beforehand, Jonathan would single-handedly slaughter his enemies one by one (1 Sam 14:1-15); but now, he would instead stick with David through the thick and thin of battle and would even put his own life on the line for him (1 Sam 20:1-34).
Similarly, John the Baptist, though older and with more ministry experience, would wisely observe that Christ must become greater than himself: “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:29-30).
In stark contrast to this exemplary friendship stands the eyesore of a relationship that David had with the fiendish Saul, Jonothon’s senior. Actually, this type of negative connection can also be seen between the senior Jewish religious leaders and Christ!
It seems like history likes to repeat itself! Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Sometimes we see cases of the Cain vs Abel relationship being replayed throughout history. A good example would be the Pope vs. Martin Luther; with the senior one exuding envy and rage. Thankfully, however, we also see cases of Jonathan and David being replayed inside the Church; those of quiet, yet admirable grace. In the Indian context, the Bakth Singh graciously mentoring the younger, albeit rapidly maturing Church members whom he is mentoring.
When it comes to the newer, more popular Christians who are receiving more attention and fame than us older ones, are you acting like a “fiend” towards them? Or like a “friend”? Take some time to carefully reflect upon yourself.
Prayer: Father, grant us grace to always behave graciously with younger Christians who may be more talented than us. In all our interactions, may your Name be always glorified. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “What a Friend” mini-series, please click here.)