Christian, You Are a Friend of Jesus
Friendship is a word of relationship, a word of sharing, a word of intimacy. In the Greek world, it is a word closely associated with brotherly love.
In our world, the word bears a lighter burden. It is often a breezy sort of word, meaning nothing more than "casual acquaintance."
And yet there remains even for us a persistent ideal of friendship. True friends, we like to think, share all things with one another. What belongs to one, belongs to the other. And friends always trust one another. They see the world as if through one another's eyes; they walk in one another's shoes.
In fact, a friend, Jesus says, might even lay down his life for his friend. A friend, in other words, sets aside his own interest and substitutes the interests of the one he calls friend. Even to the point of death.
That's what a friend would do, Jesus says. And then he says, you are my friends, if you love one another. It is not in question whether Jesus himself is a friend to us. No doubt. He demonstrated that once and for all at the Cross. But here he says, "You are my friends." And you think, but have I lain my life for Jesus. Have I set aside self-interest for him? Do I see through his eyes? Walk in his shoes? Can it really be true that I am his friend?
And Jesus answers, Not that you have chosen me, but I have chosen you. I name you friend. I point you out to the father and I say, there, that one, he is a friend of mine!
Here is a word of great assurance. Christian, do you believe it? No, it is not that you have earned this title, "friend." If so, it would be a friendship only as constant, only as dependable, as you are. But this is different. Instead, Christ has simply determined the matter. He has declared it so. He calls you friend.
Jesus was the friend of sinners, but as if that weren't enough, he calls sinners to a life of friendship with him. He calls you, Christian, into an ever-deepening intimacy with him. He calls you friend. He says, trust me. Walk with me. I will show you thing you have not imagined. You are to be, like Abraham, my friend. Not just for a day, but forever. I have made it so.