This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:12-17
Think about Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. How did Jesus stick with them? How did He draw them out? How did He forgive them?
Jesus’ relationship with the disciples demonstrates the way and wisdom of friendship. Even Jesus, who was God, didn’t isolate Himself but pursued friendships. Even Jesus, who was the Messiah, sought the help of His friends. Over the course of years, Jesus spent countless meals, walks, workdays, and even parties with His disciples. At the end of His life, He called them His friends and said He would die for them.
We’re Friends of God
Read John 15:12-17 again. Who are you apart from God? Who are you in Christ? What does it mean that Jesus has called us His friends instead of servants?
In Christ, we’re no longer enemies of God or slaves to sin, but we’re now friends of God. No longer do we have to clamor to prove ourselves, get noticed, or live in fear. Jesus has made us friends with God. If you want to have real friends, you first have to know friendship with God through the cross of Jesus Christ. He forgave you of your sins, set you free from your bitterness, healed the wounds of your past, and gave you the love of God to be a friend. True friendship happens in no other way.
We Forgive, and We Befriend
Read John 15:12-17 one last time. What does Jesus call us to do in the context of our relationship with Him?
Why does the love of God at work in our lives call us to forgive others? How does forgiving others regularly draw us into deeper levels of friendship?
What adjustments in our priorities and schedules would this kind of friendship require?
The new commandment Jesus gives us is to love one another the way Christ loved us (see v. 12). He wants us to seek friendship and unity with one another in such a way that the world will know we’re friends of Jesus. Forgiveness is an essential element of Jesus’ friendship with us. When we love as Jesus loved and are friends as Jesus is a friend, we forgive as Jesus forgave us.
The small amount of time that’s scheduled for friendships in American life is astounding. We spend an enormous amount of time for errands, work meetings, church meetings, training, practice, exercise, entertainment, and social media, but we rarely schedule time to simply be friends.
This week carve out time to pursue a friendship. It can be with an old friend or a new friend, a friend who follows Jesus, or someone who doesn’t believe. As you spend time with them, try getting to know their heart. Here are a few ideas on what to do and a few questions you can use to go deeper in your conversations. As you do this, remember Jesus’ words in John 15:12-17.
Things to do:
- Invite a coworker to lunch and begin a friendship. Meals are a great way to break the ice with someone you’re seeking to know or know better. Instead of rushing through lunch to get back to your work, use lunch as a moment of Sabbath to get to know a friend. Jesus got to know many people through shared meals.
- Call a sibling or an old friend and catch up on life. Friendship assumes availability. Use a commute or downtime to reconnect.
- Invite a friend to a sporting event or a movie. Shared experiences create a foundation to draw on in later conversations.
- Ask a friend to join you on an errand. Be willing to spend time without an agenda.
- Invite friends over for dinner or for dessert. Sharing your home deepens relationships.
Questions to ask:
About their stories:
- How did you end up here doing what you’re doing?
- If you could do anything right now, what would it be?
- How did you meet your spouse? (Or, would you ever want to get married?)
- What’s parenting like for you?
With people who know Jesus:
- What’s God teaching you?
- What are you reading in God’s Word?
- Where are you serving?
- How can I pray for you?
With people who don’t know Jesus:
- What impressions do you have of Christians?
- Has there ever been a time when you’ve considered faith?
- Would it be ok if I prayed for you?
(Taken from Making Space by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2018 LifeWay.)