At a time when we gather to toast and reminisce, I’m remembering New Years’ past and the friends who celebrated with me.
I tend to rewind a lot of holiday memories at this time of year and think about the people who’ve been part of my life. Some are still my friends, which makes the memories that much sweeter. Sadly, others have either passed away, or otherwise passed from my life.
It’s hard to imagine who or where I’d be without friends. Through the years, they have supported me, challenged me, laughed and cried with me, and just been there with me.
Friendship not necessary?
C.S. Lewis calls friendship the most spiritual of the loves he describes in his book, “The Four Loves.” Of all those loves, which include affection and romantic love, friendship is the least natural, instinctive, biological or necessary.
Without Eros (romantic love) none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship. The species, biologically considered, has no need of it.
I think the assertion that we don’t need friends for survival is debatable. Mine have bailed me out in many ways and I them. At least it’s hard to imagine life without them. In losing friends I have most fully realized this.
We see in our friends qualities and virtues that we can’t see in ourselves. And true friendship takes us beyond ourselves.
Aristotle presents three marks of friendship.
- Benevolence: We actively pursue our friend’s wellbeing.
- Reciprocity: Friendship has to be mutual and not done only for the sake of our own desire.
- A sense of mutual indwelling: Friends are a single soul existing in two bodies.
Friends with Christ
I think this is the kind of friendship Jesus wants to have with us. He mentions it three times in John 15:13-15:
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay 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…
It has been through losing friends that I have most able to accept and appreciate the Lord’s friendship—and to learn more of what it means to be a friend.
Friendship may be unnecessary, like philosophy and art, and it may have no survival value, as Lewis states. But instead, he writes, it gives value to survival.
As midnight rolls around, I drink a toast to friends who have enhanced my survival by loving me and showing me how to love the Lord!
Happy New Year!