For me friends and commands do not go together; if you wish to be my friend, I do not let you boss me around. There is just something about being friends with someone who likes to meddle too much in my life that puts me on edge. Now mind you, I am not nearly as independent and defensive as I used to be, but even now when a friend gets too much up in my grill, I tend to want to push back in the relationship. I think it then becomes easy for me to retaliate with, “Oh yeah, well you have a lot nerve telling me that when you….”
Judge not, and you will not be judged.
Am I the only one who feels this way? As Americans, we have a tendency to have this “don’t step on me” attitude, if we want someone’s opinion about how we live our lives, we will ask for it. Some of us have friends that we can only stand to be around every so often because they like to play god in our lives; they have all the answers to the problems that seem to vex us for years. When we don’t fix them, they get angry at us and start withdrawing their love and affection until we “fix it.”
So, when Jesus says we are his friends, when we do what he says…that kind of bothers me. So, the love of Jesus is conditional; if I do not do what he says he no longer cares about me at all? That’s not at all what this text is suggesting. Jesus loves the world, else he would not have come and died for it; yet. he is certainly not a friend of the world and its mindset. When Jesus says that we are his friends if we obey him, he is talking about true intimacy and closeness to God. God loves us and cares about us regardless, but he only draws near in friendship as we obey him. It is important that Jesus talks about the difference between a servant and a friend: a pure servant is not in on the counsels of his master, while a friend shares the confidence of his friend; even if his friend is his master. And that is the point I want to bring home: Jesus is our friend and our master; he gives up his life for us, and yet he demands that we let him live in us. If Jesus is to grow and flourish in our lives, then we have to be willing to obey him willingly and without reservation, then he shows us what true friendship is.
So, are you a friend of Jesus? When was the last time you spent time with him so that you could receive the insight and inspiration to obey him? You may feel like God is distant right now, even though you are sure that you know him. Could it be that you are no longer seeking to love and obey him? If you claim to be an ally of Christ and an heir of the kingdom, how does disobedience show your loyalty to the King? Let’s go even deeper, what is one thing that you know you need to do this week that you have not done because you are not seeking to be close to Christ? Let me challenge you to get on your knees, repent, and ask God to give you the strength to do what is necessary to obey. Just do that one thing, then let’s see how your relationship improves. Sometimes this is not possible, like yesterday when God spoke to my heart to give up one of my book “steals” to a customer. I hesitated, made excuses, and then I did not do it. I lost the blessing and I did not walk in the Spirit. It seems so small…but it is the small things that erode your character and the virtue God has placed in you. I hope for another opportunity to obey in that regard.
We live in an age where it is fashionable to be a rebel and to disobey; submission and true humility is looked down upon like it was in Jesus’ day. What would happen if we started drawing so close to God that obedience became a way of life? You know how we always talking about introducing other people to Jesus as a friend? Well, maybe when we live a lifestyle of relational obedience, that will become apparent to those we are trying to reach. One more thing, we are not doing this of our own volition, God chose us to be his vessels in Christ of love and obedience. The obedience God calls for, he gives the strength to do; that is why it is futile and legalistic to try to obey without drawing near to God. If we did this, we would not just say we love Christ, his Gospel, and his kingdom…people would see it demonstrated in our actions.
What is that one thing you know you need to do, but have not? Will you draw near to God, repent, ask for strength, and then do it this week?
How does your obedience to Christ show your loyalty to Christ? How many times have you committed treason just this week? Do you realize God is more interested in restoring you than punishing you?
How does actually having Christ as a friend allow you introduce to him to others more successfully? Could your hesitancy be your own lack of friendship with Christ?