PHILOS: friend

Never abandon a friend…[1] faithful are the wounds of a friend…[2]

the heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense…[3]

a friend loves at all times…[4]

there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother…[5]

I say to you My friends… Luke 12:4

The Meaning of the Name:

Perhaps the most astounding name Jesus pinned on His chest is this one: friend.

Creator we can admire.

Holy One we can revere.

The Provider we can appreciate.

But friend? This is a name that calls us close.

In the Greek, this name has its roots in one of the most commonly used words for love in the New Testament. It refers to the kind of love that does rather than feels. A friend does certain things, which then identify him or her as a friend- a real friend.

I am not very good at friendship. All that calling and lunch-going and being involved in another’s life wears hard on me. A raging introvert, I love being alone to think and ponder and study and putter through life. It is the rare day that I wake up wanting to go do something fun with a friend.

Needless to say, anyone who wants to be my friend (and why in the world would they?!) has got to be thick skinned and diligently determined. Yet in spite of all my friendship failures, through the years God has gifted me with a handful of women willing to brave my reticence. They are true treasures— pictures of the Father’s undeserved grace for me to witness first hand.

By demonstrating friendship towards a reluctant friend, these brave few have shown me four specific aspects of Jesus’ friendship towards us in the everyday-ness of life.

First of all, my friends…

Not only accept me as I am, but value the uniqueness of how God made me.

As does He. He is the One who formed me while I was still a mass of cells in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139). He gets me and He likes me even when I’m not so sure what it is He sees to like.

On the other hand, these faithful women…

Gently push me to be more.

They’ve not allowed me to excuse myself or settle into a worn out rut. They actively manipulate and cajole me to get out and play a little. Browsing vintage shops and dusty bookstores—places I relish but rarely treat myself to.

…pray for me and let me know it.

One of my friends, Becky, has this uncanny knowing—sort of a mystical mental telepathy that lets her know just when I need her prayers. And so she’ll text and tweet and leave me notes on Facebook to try to hunt me out of my reclusive cave in order to let me know she knows…

…don’t demand a lot of attention from me.

Instead, they really do understand that my life is pulled in a million different directions and that I’m doing the best I can to juggle all the hats I’m supposed to wear. I feel enough with them.

Are you beginning to see what I mean? How these rare treasures demonstrate in real time the friendship God offers?

Then there’s this almost-but-not-quite funny story found in John chapter 21…

Peter was depressed and grouchy , no doubt racked with guilt for his failure to follow Jesus through the worst moments of His life. So he did that macho-man thing and declared, “I’m going fishing!” (John 21:3) Despite his moodiness, a few of the other former followers of Jesus decided to go too. They were a motley crew: Thomas (we know him as the beligerant doubter of the rumors of the resurrection), Nathaniel (the guy “without guile”- sort of an outspoken-no-niceties sort), the sons of Zebedee (otherwise nicknamed “sons of thunder” for their volatile tempers), and a couple of unnamed fellows. Not exactly a bunch of happy campers!

None-the-less, they all jumped in the boat to try their luck at a night of fishing. And they caught… nothing.

Can you imagine the mood in the boat that night?

As their spirits sagged and the sun came up, they noticed a familiar figure standing on the beach. Could it be? Squinting to see in the dim dawn light, each man holding his breath in fear of having their hopes dashed once again…

“Friends, have you caught any fish?”

Friends? Was He serious? These guys make my half-hearted attempts at friendship look heroic. Yet Jesus chose to gather those guys close to His heart and be their friend.

How astounding is that?

Are you feeling rotten about yourself? Inadequate, unlovable, rejected too many times to show the real you?

Performing and pretending, trying to play nice but knowing it’s not enough?

Try opening your heart and mind to the friendship Jesus offers.

He relishes the way you’re wired up. Raging introvert, bouncing extrovert, ponderous thinker or rushing do-er, He likes you!

What’s more, He thinks you can be more of who you were meant to be and He’ll lend you a hand to get there. He’s got adventures planned beyond your own self-limiting fears.

And He’ll pour all of Himself into you, filling you with all His goodness and kindness and patience and a whole list of qualities you’ll never attain on your own. Just being with this Friend rubs holiness off on you!

But there’s more, right off my list— Jesus is sitting right this moment all cozied up to the Father and the Spirit, praying for you. Always. Whether you’re being good or sneaking around in sin, He’s watching and praying. He was praying for the grumpy guys on the boat who had abandoned Him when things got too hard, and He is praying for you too. Always.

And that, my friends, is the God who dares to call Himself PHILOS.

From my heart,


For another astounding story that highlights this Name, read Luke 11:5-11

[1] Proverbs 27:10

[2] Proverbs 27:6

[3] Proverbs 27:9

[4] Proverbs 17:17

[5] Proverbs 18:24