I recently caught a few minutes of a TV program about castle mysteries and in this particular episode they told a story about Martin Luther.
According to this program, Martin Luther was on his way to face trial for translating and proclaiming the Gospel in ways that went against the grain of the Catholic Church. If convicted he would likely be put to death. On the way to his trial, a group of men dressed as guards captured Luther and took him to a remote castle on top of a mountain.
It was at first believed that this group of guards was sent by the Pope to seize Martin Luther, but instead this group was comprised of Luther’s friends who had come to his rescue.
Upon capturing him, these friends secured Luther within the walls of the castle where he could be free to write in safety. It was here that Luther completed his translation of the Bible into German and made a way for common man to access and read the scriptures for themselves for the very first time.
And it was all because of this rescue.
As I sat and watched this story unfold, I thought to myself, Wow! What if? What if those friends hadn’t been brave or daring enough to stage such a rescue? What if they hadn’t believed in Luther enough to risk their lives for his work, his mission? What would or would not have happened? How might history have changed?
(I also thought, Wow! I wish I had a group of friends to come rescue me and lock me in a castle where all I could do is write…but that’s another story…)
Or is it?
In all reality, I do have a group of friends very much like this one. I have a writing group, and while they’ve never rescued me and locked me in a castle in order to save my life what they do for me is not much different.
They believe in me and my writing. They give of themselves and resources time and again to help me, encourage me, and spur me on. And our bi-weekly meetings, which come in the midst of daily life and heartfelt struggles, are their own sort of rescue.
Friends like these, and Martin Luther’s are priceless, and I think they are what God has in mind when it comes to friendship.
The Bible tells us “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)
And while we often think of God as our Heavenly Father or our Great Shepard, I think we sometimes forget to consider that He is also our friend. By laying down His life for us on the cross Jesus modeled the greatest love. He modeled the greatest friendship.
And in order to experience this kind of friendship we must start by being this kind of friend.
Consider your closest friend. What is her dream, what is his passion? What is their vision and how can you play a part in helping it come true? How can you aid, support, and rescue?
Consider the people God has put in your life? How can you lay your own life down to show them the love of Christ? How can you give your time, your energy, your resources to further His work, to enhance His kingdom, to show up as Christ with skin on and make a difference in the lives of others?
I know friendships aren’t easy. Friendship of this caliber is hard to come by and even harder to hold onto but it is possible. More than possible it’s the very essence of what Christ has designed for us to experience in relationship and community.
After all, in laying down our lives for our friends there is more than love built between us. There are bonds.
Bonds that mirror the Greatest Love. Bonds that can rescue and save a life.
Bonds that just might change the very course of history.