In Luke chapter 5, JESUS had interacted with Simon Peter and his crew. He used Peter’s ship to preach to a crowd and thereafter invited Simon and his colleagues to come work with him to become fishers of men, instead of just only fishing for fishes! They were invited to join in a meaningful spiritual relationship that would be based on world-changing purpose. The relationship was going to be more than social. It was going to be spiritual, soul-saving and lives-turning-aright.
After recruiting those folks into what was going to advance kingdom missions, JESUS moved on, and had another encounter with a leper. In answer to the leper’s prayer request, JESUS stretched his hand, touched the leper, declared words that the leper should be clean, and, immediately the leprosy “departed” from the leper.
These miraculous ministries of JESUS drew public attention to what could be benefited from JESUS by just about any & everybody. He attracted platonic “friends” who only sought benefits. JESUS’ fame had spread around many communities. So, multitudes sought after JESUS to hear his messages and to be healed from their various diseases and infirmities. All of these people sought for JESUS not because they had anything to offer him but for what they could get from him. They were no real friends with personal concerns or cares for JESUS, they were simply dependents. Many people are mere friendly dependents who most often just lean long enough on other’s support, so they can develop an ingrained sense of entitlement. People with sense of entitlement are those who love to have one-sided demand on having own expectations met by the other persons, in whom they barely contribute. They place such demands upon their victims, expecting to drain resources at all costs. They are those who assume they must have their needs met by another person in a relationship, whether the person is willing or not, and, no matter what.
JESUS knew better not to expect true friendship from those who smooth-talked, eye-pleased and hung around him for declared or undeclared essential self-benefiting interests. Rather than dance to ego-lifting sing-songs and praises from hangers-on, in Luke 5:16, JESUS rather withdrew himself into a lonely wilderness to pray. True friends will refresh other’s souls. Jesus had no such friends, except in His prayer place. He only had people who could get angry whenever He would not play by their rules. The prayer place was the only place where JESUS got benefits of being recharged and refreshed. That became so, since he had no real friends to lean-on for uplifting, spiritually-nourishing, courage-boosting moments. God was JESUS’ friend. And, JESUS was God’s friend.
When JESUS returned from the praying place, he came back to a chit-chat teaching session with people who packed up the available meeting space. The room had been packed with rapt listeners who watched him with undivided attention. While they were mentally connected, spiritual power loomed around JESUS but none of the folks, including the religious leaders, were keen enough to tap-in and draw the power for a personal miracle.
Soon enough, a sick man who had real friends, was brought around by genuinely intentional friends, who took the roof down in desperate attempt to grab physically manifesting spiritual-solutions from JESUS. They went to such lengths for the man who was paralyzed and was unable to help himself. It was clear that the paralyzed man could not help himself find needed solution to his own needs. It took true friends to figure out what he actually needed. They mapped a plan of action by which they dutifully invested themselves, and that unselfishly, into the paralyzed man’s life. They made plans and provisions, took half chances on risky choices, to push untested limits, all in a bid to solve another person’s problem and meet his need. They must have overlooked their own personal needs. They put forth the paralyzed man’s need above and beyond their own. They willingly assumed second place, so that someone else could receive complete joy, on their own account. They were unusual. They trusted in faith, purposely outweighing their doubts. They figured that it was better to take a chance on lifting a critically needy man, up in progress, than to let him rot or decay, while they could watch and do nothing to help. They decided to commune together as a team of soul-saving helpers. They were true life-savers. True friends are always true life-savers.
These guys that brought in the man that was strapped to a stretcher/couch for healing and deliverance with JESUS, were examples of what true friends can be. True friendship is not supposed to be demanded from someone else. It should otherwise be a predisposition that one choose to impose on oneself for others. Like with these folks, true friendship can be exercised in one directional way, without one necessarily waiting for input from the other way. The paralyzed man had nothing to offer in return while he remained in his pathetic state. Nothing was assured before these true friends took up self-imposed chance to try all means possible for arranging a miracle for the needy.
So, are you like these folks. Are you a true friend to anyone? Do you basically demand attention? Or, do you spend more attention on your relationship?
- True friends do not wait to be told about real needs before they spring into helpful actions.
- True friends discern real needs, proffer prompt solutions, and go extra miles, without necessarily thinking twice about it.
- True friends rarely do their service to curry applause, advertorial attention or photo-op-ready public mention.
- Real friends do not need be prodded to invest a solution. They find ways of breaking difficult barriers just so that someone else is free from life’s difficulties.
- Real friends can abandon self-interest, personal comfort, or class advantage, just to pursue someone else’s advantageous interest.
- True friends do not stand aloof to criticize another person’s obvious inadequacies, they willingly choose to do something about it, even when they are not directly asked.
- Real friends do not bad-mouth, back-bite, secretly smear, or privately tear-apart someone they never invested life-turning solutions into.
- True friends are able to stand by others in troubled circumstance and give it all it takes, in anticipation of ultimate turn-around, whether it arrives soon or not.
Unlike the man who was helped by genuine and helpful friends, that took personal ownership of the individual’s burden(s), JESUS had no such real friends, who understood and rightly solved his burdensome problems. No one was reliable enough for JESUS to lean on, on essentials. Even his closest relationship investment, Simon/Peter, was a huge disappointment who denied JESUS when his closeness was mostly needed. Some would claim that what happened with JESUS, regarding many of his relationships, were bound to happen in the exact same ways they did. But I would not agree that such should be an excuse for people to emulate bad unfriendly manners and habits. I do believe that JESUS deserved some true real-life friendships.
In Mark 3, around verse 21, we are told that JESUS’ supposed friends/family deserted him. They called him crazy. Friends & family members failed to be there for him in the exact ways that he really was for them. They preferred to be there for him only on their own terms. Their terms were nowhere close to His real needs. True friends take time to find out actual needs. They do not insist on meeting what they think or assume the need is. Many of JESUS’ relationship tried to resist, stall, obstruct or change him personally, instead of joining him to change what God sent him, as change agent, to change, for humanity. They did not believe he got his ministry brand, pattern, style, or messaging, right.
Yet, JESUS was a real friend to the needy. He solved problems for people he barely knew. His friendship was unflinching even when most of his relationships turned their backs on him, regardless of miracles they enjoyed by His acts. But that was never a bother to JESUS.
There are no accounts of JESUS having real genuine friends. Of course, he had acquaintances, admirers, and associates, who were otherwise known as disciples. A clear study of scriptures should reveal that the disciples were more of a drag and drain on JESUS than they were initiative-implementing selfless friends like the ones the paralytic man had.
I can relate with JESUS on this one too. I had been in situations where I wished someone understood my actual need and not my perceived need. There were times that I wished to be carried towards healing and not crucified or crushed. Sometimes those who could be real friends were too embarrassed by my unusual conditions, that they would not be friends enough. They would rather wait till an acceptable publicly visible turn-around could be publicly celebrated, first. Many shut themselves out because of obvious need that they were unwilling to be part of its public process of positive change.
Many would rather want to only join in a victory dance lap, than be associated with the stages and phases whereby public shame of paralysis, which is yet to be turned around, is turned around. Not many can patiently hope in God for a miracle alongside a needy person, especially when the case is in public sight and glare, right in the faces of demoralizing trolls, late-night news-hungry and gossip-seeking onlookers, plus a scrutinizing society of mockers. Some desiring relationships on platonic friendly association levels, do not want to associate with “public failure.” They preferred ready-made success-associations.
True friends are very rare to find. The aged saying used to be: friends in need are friends indeed. That saying may have since changed to: friends with serious needs, have no true friends indeed. Many want friends who only solves their own insatiable needs. Not many want to be friends who contribute selfless DEEDS to others.
Some other people are more wary of being tagged alongside someone with a less than desirable status than to be committed and involved alongside in engaging resolution processes. Some who should offer helping hands would only do so, only when it serves other motives and self-aggrandizing interests. The names of the friends of the paralytic were not even recorded in the Bible. They were not into solving the sick man’s problems for fame or public acclaim.
Today, true friends are almost non-existent. More people are cultured to be individualistic and could not easily bother about selfless caring for anyone else. True friendship should not be about setting personal grounds rules to enslave, yoke or bind someone else. It should be about setting right priorities to resolve the other’s problems with no strings attached.
We live in times when relationships only work based on what people get, or do not get, on-demand from others. Many have been mentally and spiritually trained to cast easy enemy-labels on others. Hence such could not be adequately bothered to provide welfare for no-one else. Even some children abandon parents once they have the slightest reason or excuse to do so.
Now, this is not a writing to point accusing fingers or accuse people all around. This is a message about no one else but you, my reader. Are you a real friend to anyone? There would be no real friends in your community until you choose to be one. True friends, like those that helped the paralytic man, do whatever they have to do, to save a soul. They invest into another, even when a needy has no means of effectively communicating real needs or reciprocating love invested.
The paralytic man had nothing to give back, unless he became whole again. Are you providing support to someone or people with real needs around you? Or do you hang by and prefer to watch helpless people remain in poor conditions while you boast of how great you are? God is still looking for ambassadors and representatives, in Christ JESUS, who would be selfless Good Samaritans, that makes themselves available physically, financially, and spiritually, to molested, harassed, wounded, perishing lives. It is better to be a part of re-building lives, than to be a super cool sideline dude who boasts in selfish accomplishments.
So, even if you have no real friend, you can choose to be an available hand, and genuine friend to someone. That is what JESUS did. That is what JESUS would do. That is what JESUS wants us to do. In John 15:15, JESUS lowered himself from divinity status. He elevated us from servanthood and subservient levels to call us into friendship with Himself. We all need to step down from our high-horses and find someone in low-estate and ugly conditions, to help become better in life. He that would make friends should show self to be friendly. People ought to stop complaining about lack of true friends. You may instead seek to receive grace to be a life-saving friend to someone, in JESUS name.
The following is my prayer. You can make it yours too:
“I thank you JESUS for bringing yourself down to help lift me up and make me worthy to be called your friend. I ask that you give me more grace to be there for those around me who suffer spoken or unspoken harrowing needs. Please help me to stand with people even when it could be socially ugly to do so. Lord, help me to receive joy from turning other people’s lives around positively. I pray that you use me as a friend to the friendless. Please give me true and genuine friends who will uplift me and all that I need to achieve in this life. Meanwhile, while I wait to have genuine and true human friends, I pray that you will not leave me alone. Please be my friend. I want you to be there for me in ways that no human can be. Holy Spirit, you sustained JESUS when no human could. Please sustain me, mentally and emotionally when no one else can do so. In JESUS name I prayed.”
Apostle Olan Elujoba preaches, teaches, authors, publishes and broadcasts God’s words, in obedience to a calling he received to pursue the GREAT COMMISSION. He heads Worldwide WORD Missions, a global initiative that torches lives by God’s words, by the power of the Holy Spirit, till millions of lives shine as lights for JESUS Christ, Our LORD!
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