Friends? 1 John 5:1-6 John 15:9-17
I think it's fairly safe to say that most of us can probably, rather easily, count on one hand how many real friends we have. I don’t mean acquaintances or people we know... I mean true friends. Good friends.
Friends we can count on through thick and thin... good times and bad. Friends we can call on... any time of the day or night... and they'll be there... really be there... to laugh, to listen... to cry... or to post bail! It's been said that a friend will help you move, but a true friend will help you move a body! LOL!
Of course, lots of people strive to be friendly... but few are true friends...
I mean, think about it... how many of us have friends who'll tell us the truth about ourselves... maybe a truth we don't necessarily want to hear? Friends who'll let us know when we're being petty, or selfish, or bitter... and friends who'll give us the space to blow off a little steam every once-in-a-while, friends who will let us be... ourselves in their presence.
Most of us have very few friends like that... a handful of true, good friends. I think I can name more people who won't speak to me anymore, than I can name true friends... present company excluded, of course!
To be fair, I know a lot of people and I'm friends with a lot of people! The vast majority of the people I know I happily call my friends... but I also know the limitations of those relationships.
Because the word "friend" is a lot like the word "love" in our world. We claim to love everything from cheeseburgers to our children! Love is a broadly expressive word that's used to demonstrate way more than actual love. And the word "friend" is that way, too. We call practically everyone we know our friend. I have over 4200 "friends" on social media for heaven's sake...
So many of my relationships are "friend-like" for sure... having gone to school together... or having worked together... or even having gone to church together for a number of years... it's easy to create the illusion of a relationship beyond school, or work, or church...
But when the school days are over... or the job changes... or it's Thursday instead of Sunday... so ends the illusion of friendship. I'm not judging anyone unless I'm judging myself... I'm just stating what seems to me to be an obvious fact. We all have very few, true friends.
Of course, the few real friends we do have, are precious. We value those friendships... those relationships... and some of us end up marrying our best friend!
And at those times... and moments... when you and I find our friend's in need... we try our best to be there... to love and comfort and support... sometimes it's just to listen. You want more than anything... to lighten their load... to ease their mind... to take away their pain.
Of course, that’s when you know your friendship is true... it's real... Whenever YOU are willing to be the good friend... true friendship results. A relational connection's fostered in those moments that's based on trust and honesty that could easily last a lifetime.
Still, even the best of friends sometimes get caught up in trifling little details... like she didn’t call (so I wonder what’s wrong)... or he always demands I come to his house... or our plans are always at my urging. So what? Does it really matter?
There’s a saying that we have friends for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I have found this to be abundantly true.
True friendships just aren’t that common. Which is why we hold on to them so tightly.
How many times has the phone rang... the familiar voice on the other end is that of a longtime friend. Someone you haven't seen in forever... but whose reassuring voice reminds you that everything is okay... and that you're loved.
Jesus said to his disciples: "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."
“I no longer call you servants... I have called you friends.”
I would argue that these simple, yet often overlooked words of Jesus are among the most radical and transformative words in the whole of the New Testament. Just think about it... the God of creation... the Word made flesh... Emmanuel, God with us... the King of kings and Lord of lord... the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End... the Messiah, the Savior... has called us friends.
We all carry a lot of titles, and wear a lot of hats in life! You may be an employee or an associate. You're certainly and son or a daughter... a child, a grandchild... a cousin. So many of the titles we're given in life aren't chosen, they're chosen for us... by circumstance, or providence.
But friends are chosen... we choose our friends. You're not born someone’s friend... We make room in our lives for our friends.
When Jesus calls us "friend" he is saying we're in a chosen relationship... Jesus has chosen us... He makes room for us... He cares for us, listens to us... holds us close when we're tired and lonely and afraid. Jesus is never satisfied to see us as “servants” - as those who simply do what they’re told... those who tend to their Master's bidding. And that’s Good News!
Jesus calls us friends. And friends, true friends, walk side by side... true friends carry us, when we cannot carry ourselves.
"You did not choose me, I chose you."
"I no longer call you servants... I have called you friends."
This is the word of God for the people of God... Thanks be to God...