Friends, not servants

“You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.” — John 15:12-16, The Message.

Servants, as Jesus points out, only do what they are told. They never have insight or input into what is going on. Their role vis-a-vis the master is defined and unchanging. They have their place never to leave it, despite how well they might do their work.

Friends, on the other hand, are in relationship. Friends share many things, and respond to each other, adapting to the needs and circumstances in each others’ lives. For Jesus to call us friends is an amazing thing, and it frees us to be in relationship with him and to participate in the kingdom with him. We are neither slaves nor sheep. We have freedom and responsibility to point the way to the kingdom.

Of course, it’s not as simple as What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Just before uttering the words above, Jesus reminds the disciples that following his command means loving others as he has loved them, and that means loving unsparingly, dangerously, sacrificially — laying down one’s life for one’s friends.

But neither can we just follow orders, keeping the rules and ticking off our obligations. That’s the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and Jesus was clear in the Sermon on the Mount that that’s just the starting place. Servants have no obligation beyond obedience. But Jesus wants us, as his friends, to be his partners and co-conspirators in loving all his friends — all of God’s people and God’s creation. We’ve been invited to transform ourselves and our world. We’ve been chosen for a life we could never choose for ourselves.

Read John 15:12-16 again. How does it sound to hear Jesus call you his friend? In what ways has Jesus called you to join him in transforming your life or your world? How might he be calling you today?

Written by Bob Fisher in: spirituality |

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