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"... there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18.24

Aristotle taught that there are three kinds of friends. The first are those we have through necessity; work colleagues perhaps. The second are those with whom we share a common interest; through sport or a fondness for music. The third kind are those whom we like, even love, for who they are. The relationship we enjoy together is classified as "virtuous friendship" because it brings out the best in us.

Different religions offer various ways of relating to the divine. A distinguishing feature of Christianity is that it presents Jesus as our friend. "What a friend we have in Jesus..." as the old hymn goes. What a friend indeed!

Jesus has proved his friendship towards us so richly that we could never repay him or render ourselves worthy of his affection. That is why ours could never be a utilitarian relationship or purely recreational, as in Aristotle's first two categories. Jesus invites us into the highest form of friendship, in which our bond is simply one of mutual appreciation. What a revelation: that our creator, redeemer, judge and saviour offers us the hand of friendship!

Of course we are not worthy - but who would refuse?

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