How many people can you call your "true" friends? According to Oswald Chambers a true friend must meet three requirements (or have three layers).
1. We must identify with them in thought.
2. We must identify with them in heart
3. We must identify with them in spirit.
Being able to identify with someone in thought is a fairly superficial layer and relatively easy. We encounter many people with which we have commonalities. For instance, I am a Trekkie...meaning I am a fan of Star Trek, especially the original series with James T. Kirk, Spock and so on. I might have meaningful conversations with other Trekkies and enjoy spending time with other Trekkies, but that does not make us true friends. We have common thoughts about a certain show and the characters in that show.
Being able to identify with a person in heart is a layer below the surface. The heart is often a picture of our passions. This might include causes that we enjoy supporting, or political issues that we take a firm stand on. These areas of heart draw us together. The Right to Life Rally in Washington DC, draws bus loads of men and women who believe in the right of an unborn baby to live rather than be aborted. These friendships revolve around a passion of the heart.
The inner most layer and perhaps the cord that binds them all together is being able to identify with a person in spirit. The spirit was created by God. This part of us links us not only to each other, but to the Creator Himself. Having a common spirit adds a depth to friendship that the other two alone can not have.
Our lives are filled with various layers of friendships. All of these are good, or at least they should be. Friendships that drag you down, suck the life out of you or cause you to do things that are dangerous or unhealthy are not friendships that identify with your thoughts, your heart or your spirit and most likely should not continue.
And for those of you who have true friends, thank God for them. They are vessels used by Him to encourage us into the deeper layers of Jesus.