World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

The Vocation of Friend

What’s a Vocation?
The teaching of vocation is one of the most wonderful in the Scriptures. Our vocations are more than our job, they are our calling, our station in life; they are the way we fit into this world.

We all have multiple vocations. I am a Christian, a son, a husband, a father, a pastor, a citizen, etc. Every vocation defines who my neighbor is. As a Christian I am a neighbor to all people with on obligation to love all. As a son I have my father and mother to honor. As a husband I have Keri to love and cherish. As father I have Hannah, Andrew, Daniel and Isaac to love and provide for. As a Pastor I have you, the members of Hope Lutheran to love and care for with the Word of God and the Sacraments.

Your vocation puts a name on the neighbor that Jesus commands to love as yourself. And God is at work in our vocation. When we ask our Father in Heaven to provide us daily bread, we are praying for those who have the vocation of farmer and miller and baker and grocery store manager, etc. God is behind all these various vocations answering our prayers.

We do well to consider our various vocations in light of the Scriptures to see how the Lord has ordered this world and put is in it. The Table of Duties in the Small Catechism is a good place to start; it outlines the various different callings in life and provides Scriptures for each one.

The Vocation of Friend
There is, though, a vocation that I have never seen discussed: the vocation of friend. Our vocation of friend is a wonderful gift from God. We all have a friend, and this is pleasing in the eyes of God. It is good, then, for us to consider the Scriptures instruction regarding friendship.

Consider, then, a few of the Bible’s insight regarding being a friend:
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a .
brother (Proverbs 18:24, See also Proverbs 27:6-10).

Friends are acquainted with good council. A friend is close enough to say what needs to be said. A friend is a trusted advisor. A friend sticks with you, even when the world begins to fall apart.

Our friends are the biggest influence on our behavior. Our peers are the biggest influence on our conscience. St Paul gives this marvelous instruction to the Corinthians: ‘Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals,’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Good friends speak the Gospel to us, help keep us in the faith, and encourage us toward love and good works. Other friendships tempt us away from the Scriptures, away from the Church, away from the Lord’s joy and comfort. We pray for good friends, and that we might be good to our friends.

Jesus, A Friend
One of the most stunning things the Bible teaches about friendship is the God Himself is pleased to be called our friend. Abraham is esteemed in the Scriptures as the “friend of God” (see 2 Chronicles 20:7, James 4:4). Moses is given the highest gift of speaking to God “face-to-face as one speaks to a friend,” (Exodus 33:11).

This gift of being a friend of God is extended to us in the New Testament. Jesus was reviled by His enemies as a “friend of sinners” (see Matthew 11:19), but Jesus rejoices in this title, in this vocation. This is exactly why He came to this world, to be our friend.

Consider these words of Jesus:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you, (John 15:13-15).

Jesus calls us His friend, and this is the most wonderful gift, the most wonderful vocation of all. Amen.

Lord’s Blessings,
Pastor Wolfmueller

14 Comments

  1. I think there are a couple of reasons why we do not talk about the “vocation of friend.” First and simplest (for good or bad) is because it’s not in the Table of Duties.

    Second, another reason is found in the distinction between “vocation” and “station.” I’m sure you know that vocation means “calling.” We are *called* to trust in God, to receive His gifts, in whatever station(s) in life He has placed us. The calling is to rely on Him. That’s vocation. The station is where we serve the neighbor (spouse, parent, child, boss, employees, pastor, congregational member, citizen) in love.

    Closely connected to this is why we seldom talk about the vocation of friend. We can choose our friends. Friends come and go, depending on other circumstances in life. We do not have a clear and certain word from God telling us who our friends are. I know who my husband is: God declared it to be so at the wedding. Same for a pastor or for a congregation: they know what their relationship is because of the ordination/installation rite wherein God spoke and established the relationship. My children are my children because God made it to be so; my parents are my parents for the same reason; even in the case of adoption, there is a legal piece of paper (where God spoke through the governing authorities) that instituted the parent/child relationship. This kind of “definitive word from God” does not exist with our friends. So I’m wondering if it’s appropriate to refer to friendship in terms of vocation.

    For example, is it sinful for friends to grow apart? It is sinful for parents and children to be estranged. It is sinful for husbands and wives to grow apart. It is sinful for citizens to rebel and put off their government. But is it sinful if we have different friends when we are in different stages of life? (For example, now that my children are grown, I have different friends than when my kids were young and we were involved in a homeschool group. Is that sinful?)

    That said (and I’ve been wondering about this for years, ever since I attended a workshop on this topic at a HT gathering), I loved what you said about the Bible’s references to friends and how Jesus is our Friend. Thank you!

  2. I think there are a couple of reasons why we do not talk about the “vocation of friend.” First and simplest (for good or bad) is because it’s not in the Table of Duties.

    Second, another reason is found in the distinction between “vocation” and “station.” I’m sure you know that vocation means “calling.” We are *called* to trust in God, to receive His gifts, in whatever station(s) in life He has placed us. The calling is to rely on Him. That’s vocation. The station is where we serve the neighbor (spouse, parent, child, boss, employees, pastor, congregational member, citizen) in love.

    Closely connected to this is why we seldom talk about the vocation of friend. We can choose our friends. Friends come and go, depending on other circumstances in life. We do not have a clear and certain word from God telling us who our friends are. I know who my husband is: God declared it to be so at the wedding. Same for a pastor or for a congregation: they know what their relationship is because of the ordination/installation rite wherein God spoke and established the relationship. My children are my children because God made it to be so; my parents are my parents for the same reason; even in the case of adoption, there is a legal piece of paper (where God spoke through the governing authorities) that instituted the parent/child relationship. This kind of “definitive word from God” does not exist with our friends. So I’m wondering if it’s appropriate to refer to friendship in terms of vocation.

    For example, is it sinful for friends to grow apart? It is sinful for parents and children to be estranged. It is sinful for husbands and wives to grow apart. It is sinful for citizens to rebel and put off their government. But is it sinful if we have different friends when we are in different stages of life? (For example, now that my children are grown, I have different friends than when my kids were young and we were involved in a homeschool group. Is that sinful?)

    That said (and I’ve been wondering about this for years, ever since I attended a workshop on this topic at a HT gathering), I loved what you said about the Bible’s references to friends and how Jesus is our Friend. Thank you!

  3. Thanks for a great post – I was just thinking about this the other day when I read Galations 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Appropriate for the New Year somehow too; maybe someone has made a resolution to be a better friend this year!

  4. Thanks for a great post – I was just thinking about this the other day when I read Galations 6:2 – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Appropriate for the New Year somehow too; maybe someone has made a resolution to be a better friend this year!

  5. While he is not Lutheran, I would recommend that you look at C. S. Lewis’ book “The Four Loves.” He spends a chapter on friendship with many interesting insights.

  6. While he is not Lutheran, I would recommend that you look at C. S. Lewis’ book “The Four Loves.” He spends a chapter on friendship with many interesting insights.

  7. Best Friends Forever??
    It would seem that a natural fallout in changing one’s viewpoint on any given subject, is the loss of ‘friends’, or at a minimum, a change in the structure of the relationship. Even before becoming Lutheran, a significant occurance took place within my circle. Suddenly, the mere presence of a differing theological opinion rocked the boat of Christian brotherhood! This has sent me on a quest of researching biblical friendship and a disdain for the contemporary movement of ‘bff’! Can anyone argue that growing up female in America has been intertwined with the myth of the ‘bestie’? I know full-grown women, generations older than I, that have a woman friend that they consider above all the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the sisterhood of women. I believe we are to love and serve one another. I just believe we can only do that within the construct of ‘loving our neighbor’. The Good Lord saw fit to define my life by a series of fractured relationships with women. At least at this stage in my life, that would be my assessment. An ill mother, the premature death of a dear sister in the Lord, and the strained relationships I have with women that I loved and fellowshipped with for 13 years, has left me searching for the tired and true meaning of friendship. I have found 112 verses in the ESV that contain the word friend. Without counting I would guess that over 1/2 of them are warnings against possessing a faulty view of friendship. The most alarming are the friendships of poor Job! The other half are on the value found in friendship.

    Click and read my favorites:
    John 15:13
    Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
    Of course, a portrayal of what Christ Jesus did for us!

    Proverbs 7:4
    Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend.

    and lastly the verse that I wish to truly base my forthcoming friendships on:
    Proverbs 27:9
    Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

    I no longer wish to develop or cultivate friendships on a faulty foundation. If the relationships I have cannot withstand a mature dialog of truth-seeking, God forbid- they will have to be based on the ties of child-rearing, husband-serving, and coupon-clipping. Mundane, but still the foundation of secular friendships. Meanwhile, I consider myself blessed to have sons. I am not fit for the drama that unfolds before women in regards to the lies that glare in the face of friendship!
    God help me to establish my love for others based on His word!

  8. Best Friends Forever??
    It would seem that a natural fallout in changing one’s viewpoint on any given subject, is the loss of ‘friends’, or at a minimum, a change in the structure of the relationship. Even before becoming Lutheran, a significant occurance took place within my circle. Suddenly, the mere presence of a differing theological opinion rocked the boat of Christian brotherhood! This has sent me on a quest of researching biblical friendship and a disdain for the contemporary movement of ‘bff’! Can anyone argue that growing up female in America has been intertwined with the myth of the ‘bestie’? I know full-grown women, generations older than I, that have a woman friend that they consider above all the rest. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the sisterhood of women. I believe we are to love and serve one another. I just believe we can only do that within the construct of ‘loving our neighbor’. The Good Lord saw fit to define my life by a series of fractured relationships with women. At least at this stage in my life, that would be my assessment. An ill mother, the premature death of a dear sister in the Lord, and the strained relationships I have with women that I loved and fellowshipped with for 13 years, has left me searching for the tired and true meaning of friendship. I have found 112 verses in the ESV that contain the word friend. Without counting I would guess that over 1/2 of them are warnings against possessing a faulty view of friendship. The most alarming are the friendships of poor Job! The other half are on the value found in friendship.

    Click and read my favorites:
    John 15:13
    Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
    Of course, a portrayal of what Christ Jesus did for us!

    Proverbs 7:4
    Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend.

    and lastly the verse that I wish to truly base my forthcoming friendships on:
    Proverbs 27:9
    Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.

    I no longer wish to develop or cultivate friendships on a faulty foundation. If the relationships I have cannot withstand a mature dialog of truth-seeking, God forbid- they will have to be based on the ties of child-rearing, husband-serving, and coupon-clipping. Mundane, but still the foundation of secular friendships. Meanwhile, I consider myself blessed to have sons. I am not fit for the drama that unfolds before women in regards to the lies that glare in the face of friendship!
    God help me to establish my love for others based on His word!

  9. I would grant the first responder that friend is not mentioned in the Table of Duties
    in the Catechism. Yet, neither is docotr, and yet docotr is a very healthy and helpful
    vocation. While the vocation of friend is not mentioned specificly, it undergirds
    the fabric of all the vocations mentioned in the Table of Duties.
    Our Lord both defines and fulfils true friendship both specificly in John 15:13 but
    in His whole life of self-giving and world saving.
    The various vocations which appear in The Table of Duties all have the same relational
    aspects which we would associate with friendship–compassion, love, loyalty, etc.
    As Rom. 5:7-11 show us that our LOrd not only has such abundant atrributes. He is
    the thequalities we tend to attach to him. So, He is love. He is compassion. He is
    friendship. and so forth. And, how did, our SAvior-Friend show His love for us? He
    died for us. (Rom. 5:8) Wow! That’s friendship on steroids!

  10. I would grant the first responder that friend is not mentioned in the Table of Duties
    in the Catechism. Yet, neither is docotr, and yet docotr is a very healthy and helpful
    vocation. While the vocation of friend is not mentioned specificly, it undergirds
    the fabric of all the vocations mentioned in the Table of Duties.
    Our Lord both defines and fulfils true friendship both specificly in John 15:13 but
    in His whole life of self-giving and world saving.
    The various vocations which appear in The Table of Duties all have the same relational
    aspects which we would associate with friendship–compassion, love, loyalty, etc.
    As Rom. 5:7-11 show us that our LOrd not only has such abundant atrributes. He is
    the thequalities we tend to attach to him. So, He is love. He is compassion. He is
    friendship. and so forth. And, how did, our SAvior-Friend show His love for us? He
    died for us. (Rom. 5:8) Wow! That’s friendship on steroids!

  11. “Doctor” IS mentioned in the Table of Duties. It’s part of “to workers.”

  12. “Doctor” IS mentioned in the Table of Duties. It’s part of “to workers.”

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