I don't think that I'm a very good friend. I'd go as far as to say that I'm a bad one. I tend to operate an "out of sight of out mind" policy. When I'm with you I'm charming. Well tolerably boisterous anyway. But once you're removed from the immediacy of my life I tend not to think about you that much. 

Unsurprisingly there have been times when the quality of my friendship has caused problems.

A few years ago a chum was visiting us and I felt I needed to rebuke him about some of his behaviour. But rather than go for the loving, up front, straightforward conversation. I went for the classic bloke way of dealing with an issue; banter. This is when you make a joke of something that really winds you up. It both helps you get it off your chest and also feel like you've raised it with your mate. Without actually raising it with your mate! Because when he says, "Do you have problem with that?" You can reply, "No, no, no mate. Just a bit of banter!"

What usually happens with the banterous way a dealing with issues is either the person you're addressing doesn't notice or they take offence. My mate went with take offence. Not that he said so. Because that would be dealing with issue out in the open. And who in their right mind would try and do that! What he decided to do was ignore me once the visit was over.

Now when you're going to make a point by blanking someone it's vital that you have at least some level of regular interaction beforehand. Otherwise the recipient of your silent wrath won't realise that you're ignoring him!

So when I thought to myself, "Haven't spoken to Bill* for a while!", and gave him as call as a result, I was surprised to find out that he'd being deliberately out of contact for a year. As the maximum level of our previous intimacy had been an annual phone call, it had been rather hard for me to spot.

Once talking we had the sort of conversation that we should have had 12 months earlier. I got in the car, drove 250 miles and he took me out to dinner. With our relationship restored, we had a much happier, more positive friendship, not talking to each other apart from once a year!

The Bible has loads to say about friendship. We all need friends. And we need friends who care more about our relationship with God than they care about our relationship with them. We need friends who tell us the truth. As the writer of Proverbs says:

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." (Proverbs 27:5-6)

Beware the friend who only has nice things to say about you. Even you know that they're not being totally honest!

Most of all we need to remember the friendship of Jesus.

However loyal a friend we are, in the end if someone ignores us, doesn’t answer our calls, uses and abuses us, we’ll reject them. Shut them out of our lives. But that’s not what God does.

His love for us is so great that he sends His Son. So that we who are his enemies can be made into his friends. He does that at the cross we’re Jesus dies for the way that we have treated God and each other. 

The TV series which ruled the world when I was in my 20’s was friends. People still love it today. It’s theme tune summed up what is so attractive about good friendship.

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A.
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too)

But Jesus is different. He says I’ll be there for you, even though you’ve not been there for me too. However much you have failed as a friend. Jesus forgives you. However much you’ve been failed by your friends. Jesus is a faithful friend to you. 

(*Not his real name - so stop trying to guess who it is if you know me!)