Ooh, do I have a gem to share with you today. It is a note I wrote my best friend when we were in the fourth grade. She recently sent it to me via text and we both howled with laughter at my diplomatic attempt to draw some boundaries within our friendship. It must have worked because we have remained friends for the last twenty-five years. Best friends, I’m pleased to say. Here’s the note for your viewing pleasure:
Friendship at any age is complicated. Most of my childhood heartaches revolved around my friends: things they said, or did, or didn’t do. As an adult, friendships are only slightly less difficult to navigate. I have been blessed with some incredibly low drama girlfriends, but I know that is not the case for everyone. And if our experience has taught us that friends can wound us or exclude us, it is no wonder we are more comfortable connecting with Christ as our Lord rather than our friend.
Closer Than You Think
Even with good friends as my example, I struggle with this relational facet. I find that I feel a twinge of discomfort every time I hear someone says, “our friend, Jesus”. I’m not quite sure why I struggle with this idea, but I suspect it has to do with a level of intimacy I haven’t quite reached with Christ. When we focus on Christ as Savior and Lord, as is my default, and never move to a level of friendship, we tend to see Him on a platform in the distance. There, He is above us, never next to us. But Christ addresses this directly in John 15:13-15 when He says, “I no longer call you servant…but I have called you friend”. This morning, as I write those words I feel tears brimming with that truth. The gentleness, the love, the kindness, the generosity in those words touches me deeply.
Christ calls us “friend”, and He proved it by dying for our sins- taking on our sin and shame as His own. We are not His servants, we are His friends. He begins this section of Scripture by explaining how those who do what He commands are His friends. That sounds a little harsh, Jesus; a little “mean-girl” even. But if we shift our perspective we see that we follow His commands as a response to His sacrifice for us: not under obligation or coercion as servants, but out of love, gratefulness, and friendship.
We’ve been “Read In”
I am currently binging on the TV series Madam Secretary. In the show, there is a series of highly classified CIA operations going on, and only a few people are aware of everything entailed. In each episode, the issue of letting someone in on the operation is discussed- should we tell them? Do they need to know? The question they ask themselves is, “Should they be read in?”. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve heard it so much, but I have come to love this phrase. John 15:15 tell us Christ has read us into what was a highly classified operation. The will of the Father, the plan for the Son, the call upon our lives, the way of sanctification- it is all made known to us. As our friend, Jesus tells us everything He’s heard from His Father. We are in the know, included, and on the inside.
Yes, there are things we do not know about: how our future will pan out, for one. When Christ will return for another. He won’t be reading us in on these things and at times that can be difficult. But the information He has given us is sufficient to give us comfort, peace and a hope when our future seems dark and we long for Christ’s return.
In Psalm 25, we see this theme of friendship and being let into the inner circle reiterated. Nothing is hidden from us. Just as we are co-heirs to Christ and everything that is His He shares with us, here we see that as His friends, Christ shares with us what God has made known to him. For anyone who has been hurt by friendships in the past, feeling on the outside of an inside joke, there is so much comfort here. We are never on the outside with Christ. Once his friend, we are brought in and confided in.
A Faithful Wound
A friend is someone you can be honest with and who can be honest with you. As a friend, Christ will call you out. Proverbs tell us “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of the enemy”. Christ doesn’t butter us up with false praise. Yes, he builds us up and calls us ‘beloved’, but He doesn’t inflate our ego. He also doesn’t pull any punches. Like a faithful friend, not a flatterer, He is willing to wound our pride in order to keep us tethered to His truth. I love how this version calls these wounds ‘faithful’. They are faithful because they are sure, they are reliable, they can be trusted. We can count on the admonition of Christ to be for our good and our growth- that is a true friend.
Worthy of His Company
Perhaps you struggle calling Christ your friend because you do not feel worthy of his friendship. We know from the Gospels that Christ spent the majority of His time with those Jewish society considered to be the least worthy of the Messiah’s company. There is no one too low to sit at His table. He ate with prostitutes and drank with tax collectors (who were considered to be traitors to the Jewish people). No matter your background, no matter your decisions, Jesus scoots over and says, “Come, sit here! Sit right by me.”
Dear reader, He is saying that to you today! If you have been holding Jesus up on His rightful platform as Lord, but never drawn near enough to hear Him call you friend, that is my prayer for you today. I pray you’ll spend time this week speaking to Him as a friend. Exodus 33:11 tells us that God spoke to Moses face-to-face, as man does with a friend. While it is my heart’s desire to speak face-to-face with Jesus, I most likely won’t experience that on this side of heaven. However, I do believe He speaks with us heart-to-heart.
Let us approach Him as a friend this week. Let us ask Him about things we do not know or understanding, believing Him when He says He has made all things known to us that God has made known to Him. Let us set our feelings of unworthiness aside believing that whomever Christ calls “friend” is made worthy of His company. Finally, let us allow Him to speak the hard truth to us this week, knowing that His is a faithful word that is meant to build us up, not tear us down.
How do you feel about calling Christ your friend? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts in the comments!