We have different relationships in life: family, colleagues, acquaintances, and friends.
When does an acquaintance become a friend? When there is a deeper intimacy of the relationship. You know the person better, like them more, want to be with them, and even have a love for them.
Friends are special, chosen relationships.
Jesus chooses us as his friends.
That must have really blown the minds of the disciples. I mean, think about it. This was a small group of Jewish men, who followed Jesus, because they saw him as a teacher, a prophet, and even the Messiah. They would never have presumed to tell others outside their group, “hey, come meet our friend Jesus.”
In the culture of their day, a rabbi and definitely the Messiah would be anything but a friend, and yet, Jesus flipped their concepts of God on their heads when he said:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 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.*
This intimate relationship of remaining that he’d been talking about — remember, I’m the vine, you are the branches — this relationship was to be so intimate that they would be able to look upon the Son of God as a friend.
Had anyone known God like that before? Well, actually yes…Abraham.*
Would they dare, though, to put themselves on the same par as the great Father Abraham, whom God credited as righteous? They may not have dared, but Jesus was willing.
He was willing, because he was going to show them the ultimate demonstration of love that a friend could give. He would show it on the cross. They just couldn’t grasp it all yet, but they soon would understand, and be happy to be known as friends of Jesus.
The abiding relationship with Christ is one that leads to sacrificial love. A servant can’t do that, but a friend can. We become friends by accepting the love he first showed us. We show the world we are friends of Christ by living out that love toward one another and others.
Where does your relationship with Jesus stand? Are you a mere acquaintance or a true friend?
If you are his friend, do what he commands — Love one another.
Grace and Peace
*John 15:12-15 (NIV)
*James 2:23, 2 Chronicles 20:7, and Isaiah 41:8.