1 John 5:1-5 and John 15:9-17
(Quoted scripture is NIV Life Application Study Bible)
I hope you all have a BFF (Best Friend Forever). How would you describe what a Best Friend Forever is? Is she someone you feel comfortable sharing your emotions with? Is he someone you like working with because you feel you can share your ideas with him and he respects them? Where did you meet your BFF? In school, at church, at work, in a social or club setting? Or maybe your best friend is a sister, a brother or a parent. Maybe your Best Friend Forever is your spouse. My first Best Friend Forever is Jesus. My second BFF is my husband Joe. With both Jesus and Joe, I can laugh and cry, share my deepest feelings, pour out my heart to them and listen with my heart as well. I respect their opinion and their advice; and both Jesus and Joe give me lots of advice. I know it’s because they just want me to do things better and be happy, yet sometimes I don’t want to hear how I could have done things better, especially after I’ve already done it!
A Middle School English teacher asked her class one day to write imaginative definitions of a friend. One student said, “A friend is a pair of open arms in a society of armless people.” Another said, “A friend is a warm bedroll on a cold and frosty night.” Others said: “A friend is a mug of hot coffee on a damp, cloudy day.” “A friend is a beautiful orchard in the middle of the desert.” “A friend is a hot bath after you have walked 20 miles on a dusty road.” I hope those kids continue to recognize what a friend is; and have a friend who will be there for them, as well as be a friend like this to others.
Not everyone has a BFF. If we’ve been hurt by friends in the past, we build walls around our heart and it is difficult to let people in, because we are afraid we’ll be hurt again. I’m sure some of you can relate to this. I know I can. The trouble with building walls around our heart is; when we don’t let people in, we also don’t let Jesus in. Which is too bad, because Jesus can heal every hurt we experience.
When we think about it, isn’t it surprising that God, who for thousands of years had been hurt over and over again by the people He created, would become vulnerable and open Himself up to be hurt again when He came to us in Jesus?
In 1 John 4:9, the disciple John writes, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” What an awesome God we have, who loves us this much!
Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John 15:13-17, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” Only God can love like this. To lay down His life for human beings, whom Jesus now calls His friends.
Jesus is talking with the disciples as he is sharing the Passover Seder dinner with them. Up to this point, the disciples had been in the role of learners, followers, perhaps even servants, following the teaching and direction that Jesus has given them. He begins by explaining that everything he has been doing and talking about comes down to love. Just as God has loved him, he has loved them. And now, the number one commandment is to love one another.
Jesus says to them. “I no longer call you slaves (or servants), because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, –” Can you imagine what the disciples felt? This was a major change in the relationship between Jesus and the men around that table.
There is a great worship song written and first recorded by Israel Houghton, titled ‘I Am a Friend of God.’ The lyrics are: “Who am I that you are mindful of me, That you hear me, when I call, Is it true that you are thinking of me, How you love me, it’s amazing (who am I Lord) The chorus is: “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me friend.”
‘Someone has defined friendship as “knowing the heart of another and sharing one’s heart with another.” This morning we sang: What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! This is how we build a friendship, spending time with a person; sharing our heart with them and they sharing their heart with us, speak words of love to them and listening for words of love from them.
Jesus began calling his disciples friends rather than slaves or servants because he has entrusted them with everything he has heard from his Father. Jesus trusted the disciples to share what he has taught them and what they have witnessed him do the past three years; the miracles, the kindnesses, the loving the unlovable. He is now entrusting them to take what they have heard and seen into the world to build God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
John the disciple, who was at the table that evening with Jesus, writes in his first letter, 1 John 5:3-4, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world and we achieve this victory through our faith.”
We become children of God when we believe in our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is the Son of God and God raised him from the dead. (Romans 10:9) We have victory over Satan because Jesus battles Satan for us and strengthens us to resist Satan’s lies.
As children of God we are called to love one another as God loves us. We are not called to like everybody, in my life I have found that’s impossible, yet as children of God we must love one another, with the sacrificial love of God.
To me this means doing things for people when we really don’t feel like it. Speaking kind words, when we’d rather not, going that extra mile, when we’d rather be doing something for our self. Listening when we’d rather be telling the person our problems.
1 John 4:12 tells us, “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
I love that Jesus calls me friend. I try to live my life as an expression of his love.
Find your Best Friend Forever in Jesus. He’ll enable you to love others as God loves you. Remember, Jesus calls you friend! To have a friend you must be a friend. Be a friend to Jesus!
Pastor Rosemary DeHut