I have friends who I like to spend time with, to laugh and play with and lean on.
I know the Savior’s role was unique and I find myself wondering how often he laughed. Joy is part of the plan, isn’t it?
Joy is Part of the Plan
I think about the many times in church history that friends are mentioned, for good or for bad. The scriptures also mention friends. Perhaps there was a different connotation then but when the Lord describes people as his friends, it feels different.
I have friends who I like to spend time with, to laugh and play with and lean on. I know the Savior’s role was unique and I find myself wondering how often he laughed. Joy is part of the plan, isn’t it?
I believe the Savior needed his friends. On the night, when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane suffering incomprehensible agony, he asked his three closest disciples to wait with him while he went to do what no mortal could do. He came back the first time to find them asleep. I am just going to conjecture a bit here, but wouldn’t you want someone to draw strength from in your deepest darkest trial? Don’t we turn to friends when we are going through something heart-wrenching? I don’t imagine the Savior was much different. Perhaps he came to his friends to find comfort from their company and yet they were asleep. The second time, he returned to find the same thing. The last time, he told them to get their rest because the time had come that he had been betrayed.
Judas Iscariot spent as much time with the Savior as any other disciple. He was considered a friend, he knew the Savior’s teachings and taught others. How could a disciple turn on the Son of God?
I can’t imagine a more painful betrayal. Our friends are the ones we love and who love us. They know us in ways that the world will never know us. We share our hopes and dreams, our secrets, our weaknesses, and struggles. If a friend turns against us, they are well equipped with an arsenal of information to do damage.
I have had the unfortunate experience of having a friend turn like this. It was sad and heart-breaking. Comments were made about me which were untrue, but others believed it. I had to just walk away. Time took care of most of the problems caused by this person, but it was still a tender spot in my heart for many years.
The Prophet Joseph Smith had many friends. He loved the people he met and was quick to welcome them into his circle of affection. His sacred role also came with betrayal. Too many of those closest to him turned their backs and put him in physical danger. Although he had passed through many sore trials because of his former friends, he was always quick to forgive and to extend the hand of friendship once more.
Joseph once said, “Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers” (History of the Church,5:517).
President Marlin K. Jensen stated, “At no time will we be more Christlike than when we are a friend.” 1
What Type of Friend are We?
Are we the type of friend that can cause contentions to cease and who civilize the world? Have we ever been the other type of friend who turned a back on someone to do damage?
Sister Kathleen Hughes once spoke about having Christlike friends but taught there was something more. She said, “It should be obvious to each of us that our ultimate friendship should be with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Savior has affectionately said to us, “I will call you friends, for you are my friends” (D&C 93:45). His greatest desire for us, His brothers and sisters, is to bring us back to our Father. And the way for us is clear: develop in our lives, to the degree that we can, the qualities and attributes of Christ. Obey His commandments and do His work and His will.” 2
Part of that work and will is to reach out in love to those around us, as friends.
1. “Friendship: A Gospel Principle”, President Marlin K. Jensen, The Presidency of the Seventy, April 1999 General Conference
2. “What Greater Goodness Can We Know: Christlike Friends”, Sister Kathleen Hughes, Relief Society General Presidency, April 2005 General Conference