March 20, 2020
All DayCategory: Lenten Devotional
Two Marks of Loving Friendship with Jesus
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:13-17).
To be honest, reading through this passage got me irritated at first. I like to think of Jesus as my friend. A friend in whom I trust, who I turn to in good and bad, who takes delight in me and wants to see me grow and bear good fruit. I like the idea that my God doesn't want servants but calls us friends (v 15).
But what does Jesus mean by saying "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (v 14)? What kind of friend commands me to do these things?
Well… I should not forget that our friendship with Jesus is unique – not to be compared with the friendships we have with regular human beings. Jesus elevates us from mere servants to true friends. But this does not negate our responsibility to obey him. We get to share intimacy with Jesus, but we also need to completely submit to him.
I'm glad that our friendship with Jesus is unique. In everyday life, friendships become difficult whenever there is a power gap. In the business world they say you shouldn't be friends with a person that you supervise. Similar social barriers exist where there are gaps in social status, money, age, gender, knowledge, and so on. But isn't there something we can learn from how Jesus elevates us and allows us to be his friends?
In my life a few people have bent the rules. Every time someone crossed these social boundaries and reached “down” to befriend me, I was able to learn and grow and bear good fruit. Of course, it's easier to play it safe by just surrounding ourselves with people who are like us. But by doing so we miss out on so much. In that sense I encourage all of us to not let things like status, money, age or anything else keep us from building meaningful relationships. We can all learn so much from each other. The diversity in IPC creates so many wonderful opportunities to do exactly this. By opening our hearts to others in friendship we can also follow Jesus' command to "love one another" (v 17).
"Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as those whom God has given you to love."
─ Henri J.M. Nouwen