In the middle years of the nineteenth century, a clergyman named Charles Kingsley was the personal chaplain to Queen Victoria of England. He was a man whom she greatly admired. The story is told that one day she asked him the secret of his beautiful life. To which he replied, “I had a friend.”
Most of us would not think of describing our own lives as beautiful. And we would probably be embarrassed if someone else should do so. But we would doubtless agree with him that whatever beauty there is within us is largely attributable to our friends. People who believed in us and cared about us helped to bring out the best that there was in us.
No human relationship has reached its full potential until the people involved have become friends. Some of you are married. You have a husband or a wife. The two of you hold many things in common. You share the same residence. You have a joint banking account. You have children which together you brought into the world. All these things are a part of married life. But what is most interesting is whether you are building or have built a friendship. No marriage is all that it ought to be and can be until it has grown into a friendship.
Some of you are parents. You have one child or, perhaps, you have several. In relating to your children, you play or have played several parts – provider, protector, playmate, nurse. Each of those functions is a necessary part of child-rearing. But the overall objective is a friendship.
I have mentioned only two human relationships – husband and wife, parent and child. There are many others, but the same principle applies to each. No human relationship has reached its potential until it has grown into a friendship. Nothing is enough until it can honestly be said, “You are my friend.”
Most of us have little or no influence with those major policy decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. But what we can do is be a friend. We can take all the friendships that we can muster and pour it into every stream of life that we can reach.
Jesus did that. He never had a chance to deeply affect government policies or economic structures. All of His work was done through personal relationships. He made a few friends who came to believe in Him and His way of living. They passed it on to other friends, and they to still others. Never belittle friendship. It has more power to change the hearts and minds of people than all the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever sailed. In this world, no more important work can be done than the making of friends.