“I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:15 New Living Translation
One of the many gifts we often take for granted are the friends God provides for us. Next to love, friendship is one of the most powerful gifts Jesus offers His disciples. Friendship is the gift Jesus offered twelve men with whom He had spent the three and a half years. As He faced the last hours of His life He addressed those things which He knew were the most important, lifestyle changes, attitude adjustments, the understandings He knew they would need in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.
His words are pertinent to us today considering the way we isolate ourselves behind pet theologies, ideologies, racism, bigotry, and countless other attitudes that cause separation. Even with the differing movements that try to make changes, many still find refuge behind paper walls of isolation. The saying, “no man is an island” remains true, and maybe it’s more important now than it has ever been in the history of humanity.
Today’s technology offers us anonymity even as we connect through such vehicles as social media. We are offered the ability to become anonymous, floating around in cyberspace and taking on any identity we desire, with no one knowing the difference. Friendships are made with others whom we may think are one kind of person when in reality they may be someone completely different.
While hiding behinds the fences of cyberspace, our communication has become, in many ways, more adversarial. When we don’t have to face an individual it is much easier to allow words we would never say if we were facing the person on the other end of the conversation. I would guess many of you reading this have been the recipients of verbal cyberspace attacks!
So what does all this add up too? Just this, Jesus tells us how important, how powerful friendships are as He reveals His own need for the companionship of those who have been His closest allies for nearly three years. When Jesus called His disciples He knew the plans the Father had for them, and it was through the schooling of grace his disciples graduated from being servants to becoming His friends. They were the friends Jesus needed in the last hours before He faced the greatest test and trial of His life!
We were not created to do life alone and Jesus makes that clear as He gives His disciples their final instructions before facing the challenge of Gethsemane. It is there, in that olive grove Jesus paints for all creation the need and the power of friendship. For it is there He tells them plainly how desperately He needs them as He wrestles with the decision that will change forever who is the rightful Lord of this planet. Jesus was the only one capable of transforming a planet captured in darkness into one where the Son would shine in all His Glory.
To be called one’s friend is a powerful statement revealing that they are willing to give themselves for those they have crowned with this intimate gift. Being a friend means one is able to love even as they become more familiar with their friend. Friendship moves relationships from the shallow end of the pool carrying us into the deeper waters of valuing and understanding one another despite the flaws we discover in each other!
We no longer isolate, we incorporate those God brings into our lives recognizing we need what they have to offer and they need what we have to offer. In many ways, it becomes a symbiotic relationship which is ultimately powered by the love and grace of God. We discover the love of friends who are gifted to love us even after they have come to know us, that is where the power of friendship makes all the difference in the world. We then become one who is willing to give whatever is needed for the friend God has given to us, even either laying down our life for them or even the more difficult reality, living for them.
“As soon as we do abandon (ourselves), the Holy Ghost gives us an intimation of the joy of Jesus. The final aim of self-sacrifice is laying down our lives for our Friend. When the Holy Ghost comes in, the great desire is to lay down (our) life for Jesus, and the thought of sacrifice never touches us because sacrifice is the love passion of the Holy Ghost.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 25)