The movie isn’t just about not being able to trust thieves—it is also about whether or not you can trust your friends. This comes as no surprise in a world where many now don’t know whom they can trust. Many of the biggest shows and movies today wrestle with the topic of trust and betrayal. Can we trust those around and closest to us?
A World of Betrayal
Uncharted suggests that we can’t trust our family, friends, and peers. We can see betrayal crop up everywhere: in shows, movies, politics, churches, and even with friends and family. 1 If you take a poll of the people you know or who follow you on social media, you’ll likely find that nearly all of them have felt betrayed by someone they considered a friend. Unfortunately, this feeling of betrayal is not limited to individual cases only.
From the international fighting taking place and various social movements, to the media, fake news, politicians, and our fellow Americans—we are realizing that the people who surround us on a daily basis aren’t as good as we once thought. They are marred and their actions prove it. Though many would like to believe that people are good at the core, when people are betrayed by someone close it feels like no one is good, not one (Psalm 14:1-3, Romans 3:10-12).
Pop culture, in reflecting the world, takes advantage of this commonly experienced betrayal. Shows and movies (like Uncharted) are released, portraying people who are confronted with that same experience, showing us how the characters handle it.
Can Friendship Prevail?
Happily, in the end, Nate finds his and Victor’s friendship is strong enough for Victor to choose saving Nate’s life over gold. Here we see a positive message that friendship can be strong enough to weather lost trust. It may be “Lost but [it is] not gone.” Uncharted tells us that a genuine friend will come through when it counts, even if he or she loses our trust. The film portrays friendship as a good thing, and Victor, eventually, as an authentic friend who has Nate’s back. But what makes someone a good friend? Can friendship withstand betrayal?
What Makes a True Friend?
There are many examples of good friendships in film and literature—from Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings, to the whole gang in Stranger Things, and Han Solo and Chewbacca in Star Wars. The Bible has plenty of examples of friendship, too—Enoch walking with God, David and Jonathan, and Jesus and his disciples. Good friendships help get us through the ups and downs of life.
Many of these friendships have a variety of aspects in common. For one, they are not only need-based or enjoyment-based friendships—what Aristotle called friendships of utility and pleasure. Of course, true friends help one another and enjoy one another’s company, but they also don’t give up on the other. Instead, they strive to understand one another, they give advice, and they are like-minded in one way or another (Proverbs 27:5-6, Matthew 12:50). They look past many wrongs and are patient (1 Peter 4:8-9).
The friendships mentioned above provide a plethora of examples of this kind of true friendship. Look at what Sam does for Frodo—even though the One Ring is not his burden, Sam goes with Frodo all the way into Mount Doom. In the film, even when Frodo turns against him, Sam still follows Frodo to protect and care for him. Because of their friendship, Frodo became Sam’s burden. True friendship isn’t easy. Genuine friendship entails a profound responsibility between each person.
There were many times during their journey where Frodo was unkind and inattentive to Sam, not heeding his warnings. The story can make Frodo seem like the worst friend of all at times. After being treated so poorly, no one would have questioned it if Sam left Frodo to fend for himself at many points. But Sam never really left him—even after Frodo sent him away. Tolkien said it best when he wrote “Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.”
Even when much pain and bitterness have seeped into one’s heart toward the friend, a true friend does not let go. He or she takes that pain and bitterness captive, puts their feelings of pride to death, and goes back to being a friend when the other cannot (2 Corinthians 10:5, Proverbs 11:2, 16:5). “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is what Jesus has done for us.
This kind of friendship is impossible to navigate without God’s grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Without God, good friendships can still exist, but they will never be able to flourish the same way in the frustrations of life. They struggle to overcome the pain of betrayal.
True friendship, like any other relationship, needs boundaries. People need space. Conflict needs to be addressed. It will never be perfect, because friendship is made up of two broken people. But, in spite of any bad, it will still be worth pursuing and profitable (1 Peter 4:8-10).
For many, because true friendship involves being vulnerable with another, it is too difficult to hold onto after betrayal. However, in the midst of trials, true friendship doesn’t need to look the same as during times of peace. Trials sometimes give us the opportunity to be in the background of our friend’s lives—praying—when we can’t be with them because of our own hurt or what they are going through. It’s a position that provides space to analyze our own hearts—are we holding onto pain or bitterness? Confessing those feelings both to ourselves and to God is the only way we begin overcoming them.
God created us for true friendship—both with those around us and with Jesus. He said, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants… I have called you friends… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last… This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:14-17).
Each of us can strive to be a true friend to those around us, but we should be wise about who we consider our close friends (Matthew 10:16). True friendship requires a balance of actions, reliance, care, and identity that only God can offer. Sadly, not all friendships will last a lifetime. However, we can still strive to imitate Jesus, the original model of the true friend. He has shown us ultimate love by laying down his life. We may not be asked to lay down our lives for our friends, but we are continually asked to lay down our pride for them. Self-sacrifice is not easy, but it is worth it.
God means for us to have true friendship because it makes both life and us better.
By Rebecca Sachaj
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