If you aim at nothing, you’re bound to hit it. But if you aim at a target, nail it dead center, yet choose the wrong target, you hit the same thing—nothing. Think of the above target, all of it, as faith. What’s the bull’s eye at the center? What’s the core of following Jesus? Some state verbal assent will do it, saying Jesus is Savior. That’s certainly a ring—confessing Jesus. Others proclaim the importance of being a good person. That’s another ring—obedience. Yet more will tell you that believing the right things hits the bull’s eye. That’s another ring—correct doctrine.
But while good, these all miss the core, which Jesus gave, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3, NIV). Relationship. Eternal life, present tense. It doesn’t begin when we die and reach heaven. That life starts when we come to know God and Jesus.
I can get so caught up in believing and doing the right things that I easily miss the connection with the Creator. I do good, usually. I serve, sometimes. I tithe, consistently. I tell about Jesus, as often as I can. But unless I aim at the center of the target, I may miss it entirely.
The last week or so I’ve been pondering the spiritual factors of friendship. That’s the relationship Jesus desires with us. But what does it mean to be a friend of God? That privilege astounds me, to know the Creator and his Son. Personally. Intimately. Let’s explore that.
Jesus calls us friends. Not just followers, not just servants, but friends, “You are my friends…I have called you my friends” (John 15:14a, 15b). Mixed in that passage he tells us what it means to be his friend.
1. Love. We get in a love affair with Jesus, where love flows in all directions. Be careful, because biblical love is acting in a way that will benefit the person we love. Not our emotions, not self-centeredness, but giving, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9). When people see and hear us, does a love for God ooze from our pores? Or do they see a love for ourselves?
2. Obedience. Yep, this is a ring. A pastor friend, Jim Fowler of Fallbrook once said, “Show me what you do and I’ll tell you what you believe.” What kind of marriage would we have if we didn’t act married and strive to serve our spouse? Jesus links these two.
3. Sacrifice is another ring, one that transcends obedience. We can do the right things, yet miss the best things, unless we give what we cherish to God. Think of control of our lives here, of who calls the shots. Jesus challenges us, to treat him and others as he treated us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
4. Transparency adds one more ring, and to this private, too-contained individual, I struggle with it, but I’m committed to progressing here. “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). Friends tell friends the hard truth about their own lives. I’m funny here--I think if no human knows, then the omniscient God doesn’t either. We also call this confession, that we tell the truth to God about us, that we don’t try to ignore nor hide things.
Kick Starting the Application
How often do you think of Jesus as your friend? Your best friend, a close friend, or just a Facebook acquaintance? Are you content with that? Of the four factors of friendship above, which do you do the best with? Which do you struggle with the most? Why? What concrete action step can you take this week to build a better friendship with Jesus? Will you?