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Bible Friendships

Enjoying one of God’s greatest gifts - Fellowship with God and with others  

Rationale

Friendship lies at the heart of God’s purpose for his creation. In Genesis 1-3 we were created to have fellowship with God and with each other. In Isaiah 41:8 God gives Abraham the very highest compliment possible when he says that Abraham was his friend. In a similar way, Jesus in John 15:15 calls his disciples his friends, and with the coming of the Holy Spirit intends the same for all of us. Further, God’s plan was that we would be one as the Father and Jesus were one. Students learn in many ways, but by looking at examples of friendships in the Bible they can see in action how God intends us to live and how things can also go wrong. Key examples might be:
  • Abraham and God
  • Jacob and Esau
  • Joseph and his brothers
  • Ruth and Naomi
  • David and Jonathan
  • Paul and Barnabas
  • Jesus and the disciples
  • Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus
  • The Good Samaritan

Key Concepts

  • God created us to have fellowship with him and with each other. It is not good for us to be alone
  • God had a friendship relationship with Abraham as a model of what he wants to have with everyone
  • Jesus called his disciples friends and prayed that we would be one as he the Father were one
  • Sin destroys relationships but forgiveness and confession of son bring healing and restoration
  • Jesus has walked the earth and has experienced the same things that we have (friends who let us down-  Gethsemane Mark 14:31-41; Peter denies Jesus Mark 14:66-77; Judas )
  • Being a friend with Jesus means we will have a friend who will never let us down, always cares for us and listens to us and wants the best for us.
  • Our friends and family will let us down.
  • God is the true example of fatherhood
  • The Holy Spirit is the Comforter who Jesus sent to us so that we can know Jesus and live His way

Scripture References

Genesis 1:26-27; 2 and 3 - created to be in fellowship with God and each other; sin destroys relationship
Genesis 12-22 - Abraham, the friend of God; see also James 2:18-26
Genesis 25:19-34; 27-33 - Jacob and Esau
Genesis 37; 42-45 - Joseph and his brothers
Exodus 33:7-11 - Moses would talk to God face to face
Ruth - Ruth and Naomi
1 Samuel 18:1-5; 19:1-7; 20:1-42 - David and Jonathan Note: The language used of the relationship between David and Jonathan is very strong, and in the culture we live in has been taken by some to suggest a homosexual relationship. This should be kept in mind when working with these passages.
The Gospels - Jesus and his disciples
Matthew 18 - Jesus on issues of forgiveness and God’s heart for the lost
Acts 13 and 14; 15:36-41 - Paul and Barnabas
John 17 - called to be one as the Father and Son are one
Romans 12 - the basics of living together in Christ
1 Corinthians 13 - living in love
1 Corinthians 15:33 - bad friends can lead you astray
Galatians 5:13-15 - called to love which fulfills the law
Philippians 2:1-11 - as Christ humbled himself, so we need to live with each other in this way
Hebrews 2:14-18 and 4:14-5:10 - Jesus was tempted just as we are but learned obedience 
Proverbs 17:17 - the true friend
 

Resources

Videos (Note: Always any videos or movies you plan to use all the way through before showing them to your class)
 
Clips from a variety of movies on the theme of friendship - http://www.wingclips.com/themes/friendship?page=1
Do a search for related themes on the site
 
YouTube videos on the theme, for example:
Friends by Michael W Smith - 
‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’ song from Toy Story- 
Bruno Mars song ‘Count on Me’ - 
 
Funny ad about the power of unity - 
Chain of kind acts - 
See also themes like bullying for inspirational videos
 

Ideas/strategies for lessons

Read Bible story and have a class discussion, quiz, role play the story
Students are assigned a Bible story and have to report back to the class in any way they want
Use a video or a song as a starting point for a class discussion
Use songs as a starting point for a discussion
Learn songs on the theme of friendship
Brainstorm what qualities make a good friend. Who meets these criteria = Jesus in the perfect/ultimate friend

Role play: right way to treat friends/wrong way to treat friends (e.g. person who is lonely; left out; new; sad; grumpy)

Study a set of friendships (e.g. David and Jonathan) through: drama; movie; puppet show; animation; comic strip/graphic novel

What are the qualities of a good friend? Brainstorm on board with class.

BINGO game with qualities of friendship: listening, sharing, forgiving, loving etc. Teacher gives a definition and example without saying what quality it is – students have to guess.

Story-board what Jesus did to show true friendship with his brothers?