THE English word 'friend' comes from the same root as the word freedom.

A genuine friend sets one free and accepts a person the way they are and helps them to reach their full potential. A friend is the first person to come in when the whole of society has gone out. Real friends protect and support each other through thick and thin. They are a solid rock in times of adversity and a comfort in distress. However, occasionally we all need human company in life as ‘no person is an island’ but perhaps can open the door to happiness and satisfaction for us. Friendship is a flower for all seasons as it never totally fades but lasts and grows with loyalty bringing much joy. This proved to be so when four friends brought a paralysed man to Jesus for healing. They did not lower him through a hole in the roof just to have a chat but cared deeply for him and had faith that Jesus could cure him. The crowd present were astonished but Jesus in control as usual smiled and said to the crippled man “Pick up your bed and go home”. Because of the faithfulness of the four friends he was able to experience physical and spiritual healing. Great opportunities usually come once in a life time but small ones surround us daily. Jesus who is the epitome of friendship was known as the friend of sinners and chose people from all walks of life to befriend and eventually laid down his own life for them. This should be the yard-stick by which we measure our personal friendships. The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings and one nugget of wisdom therein states “To have a friend one must be first friendly”. Like the four friends who did everything they could to help the sick man so we should do likewise and go that extra mile portraying the love of Christ in action. Temporary earthly friendship like silver but unable to be near twenty-four hours a day whereas friendship with Divine God is like solid gold ever present and closer than anything or anybody else to us. Each individual person is loved unconditionally by God our trust -worthy and unchangeable friend. Jesus said to the disciples before returning to heaven, “You are my friends if you do as I command you” and this is relevant for all his followers. To be friendly with God is choice not an accident. “I’ve found a friend. Oh what a friend so kind tender and true.”