“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.” John 15:15
I love cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies, especially warm chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been known to keep a refrigerated tub of cookie dough in my refrigerator so I can have warm chocolate chip cookies whenever the craving hits me. COVID, however, has made me hungry for more than just cookies! After months of isolation and forced reliance on social media, I am starving for human interaction, and I’m an off-the-scale introvert! Never have I valued the gift of friendship more than I do today. My craving, however, is for authentic Biblical friendship that never changes with the circumstances of life, a craving that can only be satisfied in Jesus. If you are like me and find yourself craving authenticity in this crazy world we live in, I encourage you to spend time soaking up the beautiful words of John 15 and the promises Jesus makes to us today.
As I’ve thought about friendship recently, I realized that the definition of a friend has changed a lot in my lifetime. When I was a child, my friends were all the kids in the neighborhood who gathered outside to play hopscotch, hide-and-seek, or tag. In grade school I learned the importance of having a “best friend,” someone to eat lunch with and climb on the monkey bars with at recess; someone to whisper secrets and link arms to skip in unison down the block. In middle school and high school, friendship was often cruel. Cliques defined friendship – popular kids, jocks, “brainiacs,” and more. To be a loner, an outsider, or different was unimaginable torture. Fast forward to adulthood when friendships formed within the college or work environment. With marriage your spouse hopefully became your best friend and you formed friendships with other couples. Then came social media! If you define friendship by Facebook, your friends now are the number people who follow your mundane movements throughout the day, and the more of those you have, the better your life must be.
I’m grateful for the neighborhood friends, the school friends, and adult friends God has brought into my life. I’m grateful for the love and friendship of my husband and my adult children. I’m even grateful for social media enabling me to connect remotely with people who have touched my life in one way or another. However, I’ve come to realize that intimacy with Jesus is the only way my craving for authentic Biblical friendship will be satisfied. And I’ve also realized that the One who calls me his friend, the One who promises to be the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) longs for that intimacy with me.
In John 15:9 Jesus promises, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Authentic Biblical friendship is based on the love Jesus has for us, the same love the Father has for Jesus. God’s love is infinite, unconditional, and extravagant. I can do nothing to earn His love and I can never lose His love. His grace and mercy are the cornerstone of His love for me.
His love is irrefutable. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) His love for me is personal and it is sacrificial. While I was dead in my sins, Jesus laid down His life for me to pay the price for ALL my sin – past, present, and future. In this, Jesus demonstrates the depth of His love and confirms His promise of love for me.
Jesus commands two things of us in this passage. First, we are to remain in His love. Remaining in His love means surrendering in obedience to Him. It means actively pursuing a relationship with Him as we yield our lives to the working of the Holy Spirit in us. Secondly, we are to love others as He has loved us. That means sacrificial, personal, extravagant, and steadfast love. We love with no expectations of what we will get in return; we love even when people are unlovely or do things to hurt us. We go the extra mile, we forgive, and we serve, putting others before ourselves.
Jesus chose us and He called us. We did not choose Him, but He chose us for His purposes in His timing. All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18), and we are to bring Him glory and honor as we live our daily lives in surrendered obedience and trustful dependence.
Jesus calls us “friends!” I can think of no higher calling than this. No longer called His servant who only knows the limited immediacy of their responsibilities, Jesus makes known the will of God to me in the beautiful Gospel message. And though He calls me His friend, He is my Lord and my master, and I have the blessing of serving Him as I make Him known in the world around me. As His friend, Jesus is my constant companion, who walks beside me and talks to me. He is my Confidant who knows my struggles and concerns. He rejoices with me and weeps with me and intercedes for me in heaven. As I abide in Him, I enjoy the intimacy and love of authentic friendship. Only this will satisfy my craving. And it far surpasses the delight of a warm chocolate chip cookie!
As I seek to apply these truths to my life, I have asked myself several questions:
- What keeps me from believing and appropriating the unconditional, extravagant love God has for me?
- How am I denying the irrefutability of God’s love? What lies do I believe, consciously or unconsciously, about His love that keep me from being able to love myself and others?
- What surrendered obedience is God asking of me right now? Who is God asking me to love by going the extra mile or serving?
- What is God specifically calling you to do currently in your life to bring Him honor and glory? What steps will you take today to develop a deeper intimacy with the One who calls you His friend?
Jesus, what a blessing to be called Your friend! May I never take that for granted and may my life be lived in authentic and sacrificial service to others as I appropriate Your love for me. I love You, Lord! ©