Jesus — a friend to all who obey Him.
In Slavic countries, friends and acquaintances are usually greeted with a handshake; especially close friends and relatives are also hugged. Other cultures have their own greeting gestures.
QUESTION: How do friends greet, for example, in China?
You should let your group guess how people greet each other in different countries (see the list below). You may also rehearse this part.
- Slight bow with the hands crossed on one’s chest (China)
- Handshake and kiss on both cheeks (France)
- Slight bow, palms pressed together in front of one’s forehead (India)
- Slight bow, hands and palms extended along one’s sides (Japan)
- Kiss on each cheek, with one’s hands on the partner’s forearm (Spain)
- Simple handshake and eye contact (Germany)
- Soft handshake with both hands, fingertips only (Malaysia)
- Rub one’s nose against their partner’s (Eskimo/Inuit tradition)
- In one part of Africa, they touch each other’s heads or give each other light slaps on the backs of their heads.
- In Tibet, people greet each other with their tongue sticking out, showing that it is not black. It means, “There is no evil in me.” When traveling in Tibet, do not be offended by children teasing you with their tongues — they just want to say hello.
In the Bible, the Lord Jesus Himself is called a Friend. It says that only a special category of people can be friends with Him:
“You are my friends, if you do what I command you” (John 15:14)
Those who listen to the Word of God and fulfill it — these are the people who are honored to be called friends of Christ! Do you want to be His friend? How is this possible for us today? My wife’s reflections on friendship with God may reveal an answer to these questions. She attended a conference with the motto “Live out eternity — now”, and it touched her heart. After the conference she shared her thoughts with me.
“What is it like to live out the eternity now? Many people, myself included, think that there are two lives with God: one now and another one after death, and that the relationship with God are different ‘before’ and ‘after’. But the Bible says that life should not be divided into ‘before’ and ‘after’! In 1 Corinthians 15:19 it says: ‘If we have set our hopes on the Messiah in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people’. One needs to live the real life with Jesus Christ now, and then to continue this relationship which will be as warm, trusting and real, in the eternity.
I imagine that there will be two categories of people in the eternity. Some people when they meet Him, will give Jesus a big hug, like a good Friend whom they have known ‘for ages.’ Other people will also be happy to meet Christ, because they’ve heard and read so much about Him. Unfortunately, it will not be a long awaited reunion, but rather the first real acquaintance with Jesus. I would like to be in the first category, and for this I have to live out the eternity right now —to have a personal trusting relationship with God, to relate to Him and live with Him in REALITY, when I’m just walking with Him in the park, or when I’m cooking. It is important to share every minute of my life with God. It is not enough just to know the Bible or to quote it by heart, it is not enough to defend the doctrines, it is important to have a personal relationship with Him as a Friend. To live in the presence of God, with God, as a present reality, without waiting for the eternity in heaven”.
Complete trust in Christ is the foundation of friendship with God. The Bible says that Jesus, as a true Friend, shares His secret plans with His disciples:
“I don’t call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. But I’ve called you friends, because I’ve made known to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father” (John 15:15)
I think the Lord expects us that to share the innermost thoughts of our heart with Him as well.
PRAYER: Worship God as you reflect on His friendliness to people. Thank Him for His friendship in Jesus Christ and for the fact that God has not hidden the picture of the future from us, but He guides us daily as a Friend by the Holy Spirit in making our decisions.