My Friends

John 15: 14

You are My friends if you do what I command you.

Jesus defined very clearly what he expects of his friends. He said that he no longer calls us servants but rather friends (John 15: 15). I do not have all the answers for yesterday’s questions but Jesus has answered one for us. His friends do as he says. What does that mean though?

At a minimum it means that we do everything in red type. If we do that, I believe we are doing well. The reality, though, is that everything in the Bible is him since he is the Word. I think we read the Bible and have good intentions. We embrace with our minds, with our intellect the things we see of Jesus in the Bible. It is quite a different thing, though, to actually live by his words. This is what his friends do however. This is the defining difference between slaves and friends but significantly this “doing” must come from our hearts. If it becomes a “work” i.e. something we must do for Jesus to love us, then we have jumped tracks and are headed on a different course all together.

Loving Jesus manifests in wanting to hear his words, read his words and ultimately do his words. Think about the person you love. Remember when you first met. You hung on every word, you did what they wanted to do just because. Friends seem to just like hanging out together. You like hearing their thoughts and they enjoy hearing yours. You share your lives. Would it really be a friendship if your only contact was reading stories about them?

Jesus wants our lives to become integrated with his. He wants us to keep him commands to us because they will lead us into success and happiness. We are going to need to change some of our thinking though. Our minds can be transformed though and that comes through the Word. If we will meditate on Jesus’ words, we will see the way. We will want to go the way Jesus points because it is a good path. Friends are not at odds with each other, they are headed on the same path in the same direction.

Jesus’ friends draw close to him and follow him in his ways. He is calling to you. “Come to me, come with me” he says. He wants to be with you. Draw closer to him today. Call him “friend.”

Best Friends

John 15: 13                     NIV

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Jesus demonstrated true friendship. He also defined friendship in some meaningful ways. Proverb 18: 24 says, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Surely, Jesus has modeled this kind of friendship for us and, he has become this kind of friend to us. In truth, isn’t he just the best friend you have ever had?

This verse certainly brings joy and a sense of celebration to the heart but I feel snagged by it also. If a real friend is one who would lay down one’s life for a friend, then it stands to reason that we would lay down a great many other things, as well, for our friends. The most costly of these is that I may have to lay aside my agenda, my wishes and my time for my friends.

We live in an age where we are all so busy that, really, we don’t have much time for our friends. We end up with virtual friends instead of real friends. I even wonder if the word “friend” means what it used to. Perhaps most of our friends are really acquaintances. I remember, as a child, my parents having friends over to play cards. Sometimes we went over to other friends of theirs and sat and sang songs all evening. We also took weekends to go visit relatives. We don’t do many of those things today. If, as the God’s Word translation says, “The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends” how do we demonstrate our love and affection for anyone? Or have we stopped caring altogether? Our heartstrings are pulled by the affliction of people who suffer around the world, we give money to groups who rescue abused and neglected animals but where is the real devotion in personal relationships? Are we only dedicated to those whom we can keep at arm’s length. Are my very best friends those on Facebook whom I never see and haven’t seen in years? Or like one person I know, who never intends or desires to see her Facebook friends in person, are many of us learning to isolate ourselves living as islands of one or two? What does it even mean anymore to have “meaningful” relationships? Do you sometimes wonder who would care if you dropped dead?

I think of the people who followed Jesus. They truly loved him. He loved them with all that he had. He loves you and I with all that he ever was and willingly sacrificed his life so that we could be best friends. Are we treating him as a long-distance relationship? What would it be like, how would it feel to treat him as an intimate friend? And what is a friend anyway? He showed us ultimate friendship in laying down his life for us, but what shall I now do, how shall I express my love for him? How does a real, true friendship with Jesus demonstrate itself? And is my relationship with him based solely on what he does for me? What can I do for him or any friend? Perhaps it is not about what you do though. Maybe it is just about being with them.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jesus is one. Is there another?

Do You Love Me?

John 15: 17

This I command you, that you love one another.

If you knew me would you still love me? My definition of a friend is “someone who knows you and still likes you”. Sometimes we become acquainted with someone but then when we find a blemish on their armor or find that they have needs as well as strengths, we abandon that friendship.

One of our problems is that we make judgments about people based on these perceived faults. Well, when you began becoming friends with them, did you think they were perfect? There has only been one perfect. So discovering that a person is flawed really shouldn’t be such a big surprise.

Our response to these pronounced judgments is to hide away our true selves. Hence my question, “If you knew the real me, would you still love me?” Well, I know how Jesus answers that question and it is probably why we love him so much. He sees us for who we truly are complete with all of our emotional baggage, scars and our faults and yet loves us anyway. In fact, he knew all of my short comings before he went to the cross and seeing my damage chose to go to the cross anyway. Now that is a friend indeed.

Now Jesus directs us. He has said, “Do not judge” (Matthew 7: 1). Instead he commands us to love one another. I don’t see an easy way around these two imperatives. Do you? We are very good at determining what is good and what is bad but remember, that is the fruit of the tree we were never supposed to eat from (see Genesis 3: 2 – 4). Eating the fruit of that tree is what yielded the curse and it is still producing misfortune and torment in our lives today.

We do not need to agree with each other’s politics or even religious views but we do have to accept one another. We have not been appointed to determine who is good and who is bad, who gets into heaven and who does not. Our job is but to love. Period, end of story. Now, if we could really get a revelation of that, we would transform the world.