Beyond the obvious social value, friendship comes from the heart of our loving God. God made mankind for fellowship—first with Him, then with one another. One of the things that sets humans apart from other creatures is the physical ability of language. Language is important because it represents one of the key ways that people connect to develop friendship. God’s design for His people was freedom, building godly community, and relational fellowships that encourage and enrich one another to enjoy life abundantly. Jesus taught His disciples that our top priority is fellowship:

The most important commandment is this: “Hear, 0 Israel, the Eternal One is our God, and the Eternal One is the only God. You should love the Eternal, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second great commandment is this: “Love others in the same way you love yourself.” There are no commandments more important than these.
(Mark 12:29-31 The Voice).

Jesus told us to love our neighbor, but who is our neighbor? Your neighbor is anyone God places in your life. Your neighbor can be one who is a total stranger that you meet on the Internet or in the supermarket. The truth is, our acquaintances are men who need our support as much as we need theirs.

I travel a great deal. It is not uncommon that someone seated next to me in an airplane will ask me what I do for a living. When I tell them I’m an author and speaker, their next questions usually open the door of opportunity for me to begin a dialog about life. They will ask me what subjects I write about. We are not sitting face-to-face but shoulder to shoulder, and most of them believe we will never meet again, so deep conversations about a host of topics will be discussed. By the questions I ask, I can tell that many of these people don’t have a close friend in their lives to chat about things that are bothering them. Once they get comfortable with our discussions, they tend to expand the conversation into areas that have real meaning to them.

Taken from Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentors, by Jim Grassi