“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
Most of us would like to be known by someone important—to have friends in high places. So being invited to the White House to meet President George W. Bush was a pretty exciting moment for me. As I waited for my turn to greet him, my mind raced to think of what I would say.
Since no one had clued me in to the protocol and with no one there to introduce me, I thought it would be right to introduce myself and tell him what I did for a living. So, I decided my opening line would be something like, “Mr. President, my name is Joe Stowell and I serve as the President of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.” I must admit, secretly I was hoping that his eyes would light up and he’d say, “Oh yes, Moody Bible Institute. I’ve heard about that place” and that we just might have the small spark of commonality—the feeling of a fledgling friendship.
Suddenly, it was my turn. I walked up, shook his hand, and said my opening line. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Well, there you go, Joe!”
That was it. It was over! I had wanted to say that I was praying for him but there wasn’t even time for my last line. Admittedly, the encounter was a little less than I had expected.
Reflecting on that brief and awkward moment, I have often thought that while you might get brushed off by the President of the United States, God—the Almighty One, the Creator of the glorious universe—actually wants to be your friend! Jesus welcomed us to this privileged level of relationship when He said to His disciples on the night before He died, “I no longer call you servants . . . I have called you friends.”
As His friends, we are welcomed to enjoy open communication with Him and to be privy to insider information. “Everything,” Jesus says, “that I have learned from the Father I have made known to you.” It would be thrilling enough to be servants of God, participating in His work, but Jesus adds an entirely new dimension by saying that as friends He will tell us everything we need to know about God’s will and His ways for our lives.
And, as you probably know, friendship is not just about open communication. It’s about sharing things in common. So we shouldn’t be surprised that Jesus would say in verse 14, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” When we obey Him we move our lives onto common ground with Him. We love what He loves and hate what He hates. We forgive because he forgives, and we show mercy to the undeserving because He is a God of mercy. The more I share in common with Him the better the friendship! Obedience is the way that I bring my life into commonality with Him.
What a stunning thing it is that Jesus says to us: “Let’s be friends”! And like good friends, He wants to talk with you and to share things in common. You might be brushed off by people you wish would be your friends, but that’s okay if you know that God calls you His friend!
- One of the things Jesus did to let you know that He desires friendship with you is to die for you—to give you the assurance of sins forgiven and the promise of life eternal. Have you accepted that gift of friendship? If not, why deny God the relationship that He so deeply desires with you?
- Friends communicate by talking and listening to each other. Do you spend more time talking to earth-side friends than you do listening to God talk to you through His Word and the indwelling Spirit?
- If there were a commonality scale that measured how much you shared in common with God, how would you rate? What things in your life tend to distance you from God? How would obedience to Him in those areas spark a new sense of intimacy and friendship?