Friendship is one of the God’s greatest gifts to us and indeed to Himself, as He exists in permanent communion with the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God has always blessed me with wonderful friendships. and at least one good friend at any major juncture in my life. Sometimes they have been “situational” friends who have helped me through a particular experience because we were in the same boat. Other friends, I have met and experienced a long and deep friendship that has developed over time. And once in a long while, God has “reintroduced me” to a long-lost friend….or at least, that is how they have seemed to me. Have you ever experienced meeting someone, or even talking to them without meeting them, and felt a very deep knowing of them, a deep comfort with them, and a very strong love for them….as if you have know each other forever? This has happened to me three times in my forty-seven years – not frequently, as you can see. However, these connections have developed into the richest, strongest, most devoted friendships you can imagine. What is it that makes these kinds of friendships so special, even before you have met in person?
One day recently, my Spiritual Director, Mark, and I were talking about friendship and my curiosity about my “God-kissed friendships”. Mark calls them Covenantal friends. Covenants are prevalent in Scripture as firm and serious agreements between God and his people, entailing promises and obligations. God is present in my covenantal friendships, as are trust, loyalty, and love, forming the basis of those relationships from the start.
Embodied within a covenant, is a promise to help the other person grow, above all, spiritually. Mark suggests, therefore, that God sends these extra-special friends to us, to covenant with, to support, and to love us, in Him. It is through our covenantal friends, that God opens our eyes and ears to Him, and speaks to us. This is evident in my covenantal friendships – with Mandy, Virginia, and Shulamit. Two of them are Jewish and one is Christian. I was rather confused about this fact, when I first thought about God sending Jewish friends to me, to teach me about Himself. I see now, that that was rather ignorant of me. Jesus was a Jewish Man; the Jewish Scriptures are our Old Testament; and the Christian faith is grounded in the Jewish Scriptures. How gracious of God to share about both his Christian and Jewish sides, with his ignorant daughter!
Whether God and I are with a Jewish Covenantal friend, or a Christian Covenantal friend, we create the perfect Trinitarian communion. When my Jewish friends and I are together, YHWH joins us. When my Christian friend is with me, the Holy Trinity is present with us. It is God’s presence in these friendships that makes the bonds of a covenantal friendship so special. Funnily enough, we never meet the four of us and God. It seems that it would be too much love to bear. It would also be too much information to process. God is so immeasurable and so unknown that I believe we can only take in one facet of his character at a time. Consequently, we can only manage being with one of our covenantal friends at a time.
Traditionally, being in covenant with someone suggested that you would never harm them, betray them, but would love them and sacrifice anything for them. These are hard promises to live by in today’s world that is focused on “Me, Myself, and I”…but as I write this, I realize that in providing me with my Covenantal friends, God is taking me out of myself, to share with others around me, what I know about God’s character, and what they can teach me about God’s character. We are a special Trinity when we Covenantal friends meet as three, perhaps especially so when we are a Jew, a Christian, and God. Three perspectives of one loving God. Perfection.