My favorite verse.....

"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13).

For many years I always used "John 15:13" after my signature on personal correspondence. For some reason I stopped doing that. At least for a prolonged period of time, anyway.

And now that I'm having my "midlife crisis"--that's your signal to laugh out loud--I'm beginning to rethink this whole idea of "friends" and exactly what it means in life.

And what it means to me. What should it mean to me?

There are people all over North America (and many in other countries) that I consider my "friends." Some of them are very close to me, and have a huge place in my heart. Some of them know that I care deeply about them, and would do anything that I possibly could on their behalf.

And some of them....well, I just wonder about.

I don't like "utilitarianism" in relationships that are supposed to be "friends." What I mean by this phrase is the way that someone befriends another, only if there is something to "gain" from that befriending in the first place. Can the one who is being "befriended" benefit me in some way? Do they fill a "need" or can they "do something for me"?

Or do I just value them as a person regardless of what they may or may not contribute to me?

These are difficult questions in a society (even in the church) that is submerged in the philosophy that only when people "contribute" to our goals is when the possess any value. And after they have finished "contributing" (or better yet have caught on to the selfishness inherit in such a philosophy) then said person ceases to have value.

If that's the way we measure friendships, then we are no better than those who do not claim Christ as Saviour--and in many ways, much worse. Our love has conditions, if we only "use people" for what they can do for us.

It's happen to me before. And sadly, I may have done it to someone--and I'm profoundly sorry if I have.

God help us.

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