Introducing Our Friends

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” Luke 7:47

We live in a day when the name of Jesus Christ is used in personal and public language, and in the media much more than a few decades ago. Unfortunately those who do not know Him are using it all too frequently in a wrong way and those who say they do know Him are not using it enough in a true way.

Most who use the name of our Lord as a swear word have no idea what they are doing. They are not aware that He is a real person, their Creator and the One to whom they will account for their life. This is not entirely their fault. They have been seduced and deceived. Jesus gave His people, the Church, the privilege and responsibility to preach the Gospel concerning Himself in life and word. Jesus will forgive the abuser of His name and change their heart when they realise who He is and ask for that forgiveness.

People who know that we have a living, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, grounded in love, will be less inclined to use His name in such a degrading way. In order to help them to that understanding we ought not to play the role of spiritual policeman or judge – but rather be a friend of Jesus informing the uninformed about who He is and what He has done for them.

This means having Christ’s compassion as He revealed in His interaction with a woman in Luke 7 and not a spirit of criticism. Only “Christ in you” can be compassionate in this way. The natural man cannot. Our desire is to bring ­two of our friends together, Jesus and the one to whom we are speaking.

What a Friend

“You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends” John 15:14-15

There are two different kinds of relationship in mind here; that of a master and slave and that of friends. In the religions of the world the master and slave relationship prevails but that is not the case in true Christianity. Unfortunately there are many Christians who have a master and servant mindset with regard to their relationship with God. That kind of relationship will provoke concepts of serving to gain favour or some other kind of reward. In the work force we call these promotion and higher pay.

The relationship of servant and master does not require love or even friendship. It is a commercial relationship. A person serves another for what they can get out of it. If they are not getting what they want they will choose another master. So we see that the master and servant relationship does not require loyalty or sacrifice either.

Is this concept contrary to Jesus words in verse 14, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you”? From this verse in isolation one may think that if they are an obedient servant that will make them a friend of Jesus. Indeed, that may be the very reward such a person desires. This is a wonderful desire but is it the way to obtain friendship of Jesus?

The nature of friendship is that of equals sharing their lives but how can God in the Person of Jesus Christ be considered an equal with a sinner?

On one occasions I was employed by a man who I considered a friend then – and still do. So far as being men before God we are equal but our roles within the organisation were very different. The same is true of my relationship with Jesus. He says that it is possible for us to be friends even though there is a great difference in our roles within His church. It is possible because of the incarnation. Jesus left His glory with the Father and took on humanity. In that, we are equally human. If not, then Jesus could never atone for our sin.

It is Jesus who declares that we can be friends with Him. It is not only possible but Jesus’ desire and that can been seen in His prayer in John 17 and especially verses 21-23.

The relationship of friends is very different to that of master and slave. Friends serve one another for what they can give not for what they can get. There is also love, involving sacrifice, and loyalty in friendship. Friends share the same interests and love being in company with each other.

Of course, among people there are degrees of friendship but as we read the broader context of this passage including Jesus’ prayer in chapter seventeen it is clear that Jesus desires that we have the most intimate of friendships with Him. As a friend of Jesus we will serve Him out of love and not out of duty or for some reward. As friends do, Jesus tells us His plans for the future. He warns us of what lies ahead so that we can allow Him to prepare us for them (cf. Genesis 18:17; James 2:23; John 16:13).