The most important part of undertaking any type of friendship is re-arranging the understanding about what a friend is.
A friend is something you must BE.
It is not something to have, collect, use, or control. People who are kind and loving do not own, collect, use, or control other people. That is not friendship; it is manipulation. A person is not something to collect. We do not have friends, do not own friends. We BE friends.
Given that, we should learn how to befriend. We should care about being a good friend, not collecting friends. So we study the Best Friend we can find and we learn how His words lead us into all truth, even about our earthly friendships.
And His Word tells us and shows us there are five levels of acquaintance, of friendship.
The most distant acquaintance is the person you recognize from the newsstand or the grocery checkout. You do not know his life or how to be what he needs, but you always smile and wave, acknowledging that fragile link of recognition, of knowing we both don’t even know each other’s name.
The Old Testament ancient Hebrew used words like rea and raa (Proverbs 19:6) to indicate this type of person you might see occasionally, might make a show of friendliness to. In the New Testament, the old Greek words were hoi par autou, (Mark 3:21) for those who just happen to be with you.
Although you might not know this person’s needs, you can reach out to him. The best way to “befriend” such a person, obviously, is to get to know him more. A simple question about place of origin, number of children, or hobbies, in the right context, will add a few almost invisible layers to your acquaintance with this person.
Your continued interest will tell him someone cares, which is such a life-giving thought.
And haven’t we all been there.