Friendship is war because friendships are hard!
The culprit is a dark enemy that keeps men from knowing each other and being known. This enemy is not what we usually think of — busyness, introverted personalities or lack of opportunity. The dark enemy that fights against our friendships is the Dark Trinity of Satan, our flesh, and the world.
Do you ever acknowledge that friendships are difficult because of Satan? You should.
Satan rules over the kingdom of darkness and wants to isolate you relationally so that he can kill you (Col 1:13; 1 Pt 5:8; Jn 8:44). If that’s not bad enough, your own sinful inclinations of self-centeredness, pride, and fear (just to name a few), work against you to destroy any chance of friendship (Jas 4:1-2; Rom 7:15). And then, there are the evil patterns of our world; individualism, the feminization of friendships and the sexualization of friendships (1 Jn 2:15; Jas 4:4). These prevailing, cultural lies keep men from deep friendships.
“I don’t need friends; I’m strong enough.”
“Feelings, affection and fears is what women share.”
“All forms of intimacy are sexual. I’m a dude; so, I can’t be real with other men.”
Men find themselves wrapped up in a cosmic battle between good and evil. The Father went to war with that ancient dragon, the devil, and stripped him of his pseudo-reign through exalting His Son on the cross (Col 2:13-15). Although the victory march is complete, men still find themselves battling in skirmishes. Jesus changed the tide of the war as He took the helm. Yet, the fight for friendship continues and is greater than we ever imagined.
This Dark Trinity fights through and against your friendships to bring you death — through friendships to bring you relational strife, and against friendships to bring disunity.
As unimportant as strong, male friendships may seem, the importance is grounded in who God is and who we are. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are and have always been perfect friends from before the creation of the world (Jn 17). And we are created in God’s image (Gn 1:27). This means you were created for friendship.
As much as the Dark Trinity fights through and against your friendships to bring you death, the Holy Trinity fights through and for your friendships to bring you life.
God wants to do amazing things through your friendships with other men. He wants to teach you things about Himself that you could never know by yourself (Col 3; Eph 4). He wants to change you more than you could ever change by yourself (Prov 27:6; 27:17). And He wants to do more through you for His mission than you could ever do by yourself (Prov 12:26; Jn 13:35).
Friendship matters because through them you image God to a broken world, displaying the good news of the gospel which is a message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-20). This is why the Dark Trinity hates friendships so much. Destroy the image; destroy the message. As much as we are caught up in this cosmic drama, thankfully we don’t have to fight alone.
The Holy Trinity literally fights for your friendships. Jesus didn’t wage war with Satan, sin and the world so that you could live for me, myself and I. Jesus put an end to death through His death so that you could live in friendship with God and others. Friendship at it’s best is a gift from our resurrected Savior. As ordinary as friendship may seem, Christ-centered friendships are deeply profound, functioning as a battle cry against evil forces. Friendship declares that Jesus is alive and He is a friend of sinners!
In Jesus, we have the perfect model and motivation for friendship.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another” – John 15:12-17
What does it look like to be a good friend? Or put another way, what should our battle for friendship look like?
1. Love your friends & point them to Jesus (v.12). Jesus was not afraid to show love for His friends or point them to Himself. This is the foundation for any good friendship.
2. Lay down your life for your friends (v.13). Selfishness must be daily crucified in the war for friendship, and the sacrificial love of Christ must be put on.
3. Commit to each other for the long haul and to each other’s godliness (v.14). We can’t say with Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gn 4:9). Because of Jesus, you are your brother’s keeper. Commit to help your brothers grow in godliness as they commit the same to you.
4. Kill pride and be honest (v.15). Jesus told His friends everything. Our friendships need to be safe places where no secrets exist. This takes humility. So, kill pride through being honest.
5. Be intentional & plan for growth in your friendship (v.16). Jesus chose His friends and had a vision for them. We too must be intentional in our friendships and plan for years to come.
6. Challenge each other to love (v.17). Jesus starts His friendships with love and ends them with love. We would be wise to do the same.
If we’re all honest, none of us are good friends. We are more driven by the ways of Satan, our flesh and the world than the tried and true ways of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We avoid friendships because of guilt, shame and fear. When we do try, we ruin friendships with our own sinful desires and insecurities. We are not good friends, but Jesus was the best of friends. And because Jesus was the best of friends, we have hope to be good friends. He takes our failures and gives us His victory.
As Steve Timmis has said, “At the cross, the Godhead’s friendship was ruptured so that our friendship could be restored.”
Men, you need friends; fight for them. They are worth fighting and even dying for. And in all your pursuits, pursue friendship with Jesus. He offers a friendship that covers your every failure; look to Him and fight to know Him.
 See C.S. Lewis on friendship as a rebellion in The Four Loves pg.79-80 (Harcourt Brace, 1960)
ABOUT RUSTY: Rusty McKie is the founding pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Chattanooga, TN. Sojourn is part of the Sojourn Network, which is a network of churches committed to planting more and healthier churches. Rusty received his MDiv from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to his lovely wife, Rachel, and is a father to his son, Justus. You can follow Rusty on Twitter @RustyMcKie.
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