The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/the-disciple-at-play/
Of all the words in our language which have been undergoing change of meaning, perhaps none have been more abused than this word ” friend.” Having as its root idea the thought of love —for it is really the present participle of the old Anglo-Saxon verb “freon,” to love—it marked in old time the close union of two persons—other than relatives—in the bonds of sincere love for each other, love that made each, care for, and desire to serve, the other better than himself. It is now used too often in a loose way. A man is my friend to-day if he be but a passing acquaintance, or if we are on speaking terms.
George Campbell Morgan. “Discipleship.”
Morgan then goes on to develop the matter of friendship and discipleship at some length. First, he notes that due to the overwhelming consecration to Christ, mutual devotion to Christ is means of permitting the deepest friendship — even though it at the same moment limits the depth of friendship with others (for where there is a conflict on a matter of one’s greatest concern, there must also be a limitation on the extent of the friendship).
Discipleship actually creates a basis for the most profound friendship on multiple grounds. First, Christian discipleship has a ground in self-denial. Both God and others must come before the self. Christian discipleship creates a common bond of concern and consecration to the things of Christ. Each will seek the transformative work of the Spirit in the other.
Perhaps most importantly, each will live with the bond of love, which seeks the best for the other:
Love is never blind, and we shall know each other more deeply and truly in that life of mutual love, than it is possible for man to know man by careful calculation or closest critical observation. It has been said that “Love will stand at the door and knock long after self-conscious dignity has fallen asleep ” which is only another way of expressing Paul’s great word “Love suffereth long and is kind,” and because this is true the clear vision of friendship ever makes demands on eager, consecrated service. The good recognized will be developed by fellowship, and where that good is costing my friend much sacrifice and suffering, by encouragement and fidelity. The shortcoming will be matter concerning which the friend will mourn and pray in secret, and of which he will speak in such tones of tender love, that his brother will be won to the higher surrender which ever means victory and advancement. So together, and by the reciprocity of this holy comradeship, there will be a building of each other up, and a several growth in grace.
Finally, in a way made possible by Christ, for the mutual disciples of Christ, death does not end friendship. Rather, as Campbell puts it, “Death is but a pause”. And thus discipleship makes friendship more profound than it could be otherwise.