John D. Barry
1 Samuel 18:1–19:24; James 5:13–20; Psalm 120:1–7
This generation has more opportunities for communication than any before it, with email and social networking making it possible to interact with others 24/7. Yet suicide rates are higher than ever, and antidepressant medications have become almost standard fare. We have more connections than ever before, but they’re not relationships. We still feel alone. People need authentic community—a sense of communing with someone—to feel whole and healthy.
The story of David and Jonathan portrays the true nature of friendship: “the soul of Jonathan became attached to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:1). Jonathan could easily have been jealous of his friend; David was a great warrior and had just been brought into the household of Jonathan’s father, the king, as the king’s protégé (1 Sam 17:48–58; 18:2). Instead of being jealous, Jonathan responded with love and kindness, and the two became the most steadfast friends.
Authentic relationship is built on trust, which often starts when one person sacrifices himself for the other. Jonathan made such a sacrifice: “Jonathan stripped off the robe that he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his fighting attire, and even his sword, his bow, and his belt” (1 Sam 18:3–4). Because Jonathan loved David as a friend, their relationship grew into a deep-rooted loyalty. When we share that deep trust and loyalty with a friend, we can grow in God’s will together. We all need someone we can rely on; David and Jonathan demonstrate how powerful such a relationship can be. They teach us what it means to follow Yahweh with someone else at your side.
In the early Church, authentic relationships were not just an idea—they were a way of life: “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the elders of the church and they should pray over him, anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord” (Jas 5:14). The early Church didn’t respond to sickness or pain by saying, “I’ll pray for you.” They actually prayed. Just as Jonathan, in one swift action, gave David the honor of being like the king’s son, so the early Church swiftly took care of their own. They made friends by being loyal, as Christ was loyal to them. They created community by showing love and kindness without requiring that kindness to be returned. But the return on investment was great: It laid the foundation for a worldwide movement.
How can you show authentic friendship to others?
This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.
John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at www.jesuseconomy.org.