Ralph Waldo Emerson once suggested that the greatest invention of humanity is friendship. But Emerson is mistaken. Friendship isn’t man’s invention. It is God’s.
No matter how hard we try to hide it, our hunger for intimacy, relationships, and communion always “spills” out of our hearts. That’s why we hunger for friends and companions. That’s why, as rare a true love may be, true friendship is rarer still. And yet, we long for it even when our minds can’t articulate the need.
It’s because we were made in the image of Him Who is Communion Himself. God made us in His image to become His companions in His likeness. And it is this fundamental and primary drive within us toward that amazing reality that creates this hunger for companionship and friends. You were meant to be in community and surrounded by people who love you more than they love themselves, and you were meant to be a person who loves his friends more than he loves himself. This is the very definition of what faith is meant to create among us. This is why Christ came. This is why He died, to remove the obstacles that keep us from this “heaven.”
And it’s why God, in His timeless patience and love, sent the Forerunner ahead of Christ to prepare the Way for the Messiah to be revealed.
In our Gospel Lesson today in John 1:29-34 (by the way, it may be helpful to you to have your Bible open to the passage as you read this work. Take a moment and get your Bible or look up the passage online at goarch.org) we read of St. John and his calling. Yesterday we stood with St. John as the amazing happened. God in the flesh came to John at the Jordan to be baptized. John felt that the roles should be reversed and that Christ should baptize John instead of the other way around. But Jesus came to do a specific work and John performed his ministry in this plan of redemption.
But John, despite his doubts and his concerns, never forgot just why he was part of this unfolding mystery of love in God coming to save the universe. He knew he was meant to prepare the Way for the Lord to speak His message of true liberty and salvation to the nation of Israel and then to the whole world. He understood his role and he never wavered, even when he had questions.
He not only was obedient, his obedience was a sign of his love for God and for the spiritually hungry people around him.
Today, what barriers still stand in your way of experiencing true friendship, true communion? What stumbles or fears keep you in the tormented state of desiring to be with true friends and yet always afraid of being hurt or wounded?
The path out of this perpetual slavery of soul comes in the risky notion of obedience out of love. The dangerous risk of being vulnerable to the mistakes and fears of others all the while knowing and seeing your own mistakes and fears. Today, the path to finding true friends, true communion will be in a willingness to “see” the Lord coming to you as He did John and the Lord asking for your cooperation in perpetuating this freedom of knowing Him and then knowing others as true friends indeed. Take the chance. Say “yes” to God today, and keep saying “yes”, and watch as you aren’t guaranteed no pain, but you are guaranteed His presence. When that is enough, you will be at peace.