May 3, 2022
I have had several acquaintances in my 57-year journey on this earth. Some have been close, and some have been those who needed me to do something. Whatever the case, I have had the privilege of knowing many people. When I was young, I was not so lucky. I was a funny little kid with a big nose and big fluffy hair. I was a thinker, a prankster in my family but was not much of a talker to other kids. When it came to adults, I could carry a conversation on and on and felt a connection, but with my own age group, I struggled greatly. It was not until my adulthood that I was able to make friends and relate to people. In many ways, my profession forced me into this role.
The other day as I was thinking about my journey here on earth and the people God has given me to minister to; I began placing these people in categories. I’m not sure if I read this somewhere or if this is purely original material, but I came up with four categories in which I placed people in my life as friends.
- Level 1 Friends – These are people we know out in the community, the grocery store, coffee shop, or restaurants that we run into and have a connection and see often through the week. They may know your favorite order or help you find something you have been looking for. The relationship between you is topical and does not go very deep. You will have many in this category as you live life.
- Level 2 Friends – These people we meet in community groups, churches, work, school, choirs, or some other type of organization where we find persons who we are fond of and our personalities mesh. Often, we will invite these people to go out together to have a meal together, to the movies or to our houses to hang out and get to know each other and our families a little better. These people we share life with and have discussions that bring our common interests together. In this level, you may have several friends who fit this description, but not as many as in level 1.
- Level 3 Friends – In this intimate level, we find people of close interest that may arrive here through meeting in level 2. There are fewer in this level, and here we share the deepest, darkest areas of our lives. It is the person we turn to when we have good news to share, or a tragedy happens in our lives. This person knows us inside and out; they do not always agree with us, but they always love us. This could be a friend, brother, sister, or spouse. For men, this typically is their significant other or spouse, while women tend to have several in this level in addition to their spouse.
- Level 4 Friends – This level is one that can only be achieved spiritually, for this is the level where we have such a close relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit that we walk through life depending on the trinity to help lead us along the pathways of human existence. Here we meet Jesus as a brother and share the intimate details of our life and allow Him access to our spirit to shape and mold us. Here is the ultimate friendship.
For me, I probably have more in levels 1 and 2 than in any other category. As a minister it is difficult to let my guard down and allow people to know me beyond the church doors, however, that is exactly what Jesus did with His disciples. He lived with them, shared meals with them, supported them, and knew the intimate details of their lives. He was a friend to the twelve He called; a level 4 friend. John 15:14-16, Jesus says, 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. Even though they were supporting His ministry, He called them His friends. He gave a part of himself to help them in their life. In James 2:23 we find that Abraham was called a friend of God: 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”[g] He was even called the friend of God. Wow, to be called a friend of God would be the highest honor one could ever achieve in this lifetime. Why did God call Abraham His friend?
I realize as I write this that there are so many people in this world who are surrounded by lots of friends from all levels and still feel very lonely. Friends help us to move along in this world; they make the living of life a little more bearable. They hold our hands through trouble, provide encouragement, help us to laugh at ourselves, pray for us and insert joy into our life. But what if we sought after that fourth level as much as we did the first three. What would our life look like? Would we tolerate the storms of life better? Could we be influential to those friends in the first three levels bringing them along to level four; working toward heaven together?