In my post, How Many Friends Can You Really Have? I suggested fewer friends are better than many according to research by Dr. Robin Dunbar which showed you can only maintain up to five close friendships. This number reminded me of an old T-Mobile “Fave 5” commercial in which you could choose your five favorite people to include in your mobile phone plan. I bet those five are not your closest friends!

Jesus’ Model for Friendships

The structure of Jesus Christ’ relationships with the twelve apostles presents us with an interesting model for our friendships as well. His relationship with these twelve “ordinary men” transformed these fisherman, tax collectors, and political zealots into men who changed the course of the world.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Matthew 10:2-4 New International Version (NIV)

Scripture lists the apostles (or disciples as many call them) in three groups of four, the first four always being Peter, Andrew, James, and John. This first group of four apostles had a special relationship with Christ since they were the first called to follow Him. Peter and his brother Andrew, along with James and his brother John, are always mentioned first in the biblical records whenever the apostles are listed together by name (in addition to Matthew 10:2-4 above; also see Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13).

But know that Jesus also kept a smaller group of friends by His side.

5 Groups of Friends

In his book, Making Friends, Making Disciples, author Lee B. Spitzer provides us with an interesting visual for placing people in our friendship circles, along with these definitions:

  1. Best Friends (center circle or bull’s-eye): the 2 or 3 dearest loved ones.
  2. Special Friends: the 3–5 closest friends outside the center circle.
  3. Social Friends: the 7–12 people one spends a great deal of time with.
  4. Casual Friends: the 50–200 people one knows by name and might socialize or work with (acquaintances).
  5. Outside the Circles: Non-friends and enemies.

Have you ever considered how you would group your friendships?

Jesus’ Inner Circle of 3

According to blogger Jeff Atchison in his post Why Peter, James and John? , “the Perfect Leader, Jesus, showed us the importance of narrowing in on a smaller ‘inner circle’ for the highest degree of intimate training.” This “inner circle” consisted only of Peter, James and John, the three who witnessed some major events that the other disciples did not.

  • The raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead – Mark 5:37-42; Luke 8:50-55
  • The Transfiguration of Christ on the Mount – Matthew 17:1-2
  • Christ’s travail in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane – Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-36

Michael Hyatt, leadership development guru and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers states in The Leadership Strategy of Jesus, that Jesus took His inner circle on special outings (Matthew 17:1), allowed them to witness his greatest glory (Mark 9:2–3), and even His deepest temptations (Mark 14:33–34). Jesus also prayed with His inner circle (Luke 9:28f) and taught them things He did not teach the others (Matthew 17:2; Mark 5:37–43). Jesus even introduced the three to His heavenly family (Matthew 17:3). Hyatt concludes the three were Jesus’ closest friends and confidants.

Sounds like a great model for your God Buddies!

Do you have a few close confidants — your “inner circle” per se, that you could trust with your deepest temptations?

Comments are always welcome below!

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