Experts who track the changing vocabulary of the English language chose unfriend as the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year for 2009. They defined it as a verb, “to remove someone as a friend on a social networking Web site,” such as Facebook. On that site, friends allow each other to access the personal information on their Facebook pages. They may never meet face to face or even exchange greetings online. In our world of fleeting cyber acquaintances, we are beginning to realize that having a true friend means more now than ever before.

When Jesus called His disciples “friends” (John 15:15), He spoke of a unique relationship involving mutual commitment. He was only hours from laying down His life (v.13), and He asked them to show their friendship by keeping His commands (v.14). Most astonishing, perhaps, is Jesus’ statement: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (v.15).

In a genuine friendship, one’s faithfulness can shore up the other’s in times of discouragement or fear. That is what Jesus is to us—our always faithful, forever Friend.

The dearest friend on earth is but a mere shadow compared to Jesus.

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