In 2007, Amir Vehabovic, a 45-year-old Bosnian man, staged his own death to test the strength of his friendships. His funeral, intended as a ruse, had only one attendee – his mother. This bizarre experiment was inspired by Amir’s suspicion that his friends didn’t genuinely care for him. Amir, disgusted by this discovery, wrote an angry letter to his so-called friends: “I paid a lot of money to get a fake death certificate and bribe undertakers to deliver an empty coffin. I really thought a lot more of you, my so-called friends, would turn up to pay your last respects. It just goes to show who you can really count on.”
On the surface, it might seem like Amir’s friends failed him. However, if we dig deeper, we uncover an important lesson. Proverbs 18:24 (NLT) reminds us that there are “There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” Amir’s friends might not have demonstrated loyalty, but it’s important to ask: Did Amir himself exhibit the qualities of a genuine friend? Sometimes, what we receive in friendship is a reflection of what we give. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 provides a roadmap for what genuine love and friendship should look like.
Amir’s experiment appears to reinforce the idea that genuine friendship and love no longer exist in the world. But that’s not true; his mother did, after all, show up. Understand that parental love is the most similar to the selfless love promoted by the Bible. Begin by being a true friend if you want true friendship and love. We must strive to be reliable friends in the same way that we seek reliable friends. In the end, Amir’s story is about the kind of friend he was, not his friends. It causes us to consider our values and the characteristics we exhibit in our relationships.