We have a friend in God, He tells us so in several different ways. God makes it clear what friendship with Him looks like in James 2:23 ““Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.”” He makes it clearer still in John 15:15 “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” But our relationship with God is not solely a friendship. It goes much deeper than that and farther beyond any relationship we could have with other people around us.
When Jesus talks about the disciples being his friends it is based on the truth he is speaking to them. He has launched their relationship in deep waters. He has revealed who he really is, the struggles he is facing, and what he is going to do. That is the type of friendship we see that changes the lives of those men who followed after their friend.
Jesus spoke in the same chapter of John that there is no greater love to be shown than when a person dies for their friend. We know when Jesus is referring to his act of love on the cross, that he is not merely dying for a friend, but taking the place of his friend. A saying in Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, a brother is born for a time of adversity.” The length and breadth to which our God goes to demonstrate His love is supernatural. He loved us at all times and he took our adversity into his own hands. So how is it possible that we demonstrate such a relationship with our friends?
Jesus called for his people to be in relationship. He called his church to demonstrate the love that God has for his people. What we see take shape in the early church is that the lowest of the low were breaking bread with the elite. Men and women served together in communities where outsiders could not help but see that something deeper than typical friendship was taking place (Acts 2:42-47).
As we speak to the people around us, we have the love of God stored right there in our hearts. That is precisely the same power that was at work in the disciples. What it means to follow after Christ is to reach out in the power of that love and reveal the Gospel that the Father has shown to us. Friendship is the most effective way of demonstrating the love of Christ and it gives others the perfect example of what it means to be in the Family of God. It can also be the most challenging, but imagine replacing a couple of word in John 15:13…
Greater love has no one than this: that he would lay down his television remote for a friend.
Or, Greater love has no one than this: that she would text “can I pray for you?” to a friend.
Maybe even, Greater love has no one than this: that he would tell the story of how Jesus laid down his life for this friend.
We can pray that this week we will be effective in our friendships, the people whom God has specifically given to us to love. God loved us enough to call us friends, so we must love our friends enough to call them God’s. Let’s go out and make friends!
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com