by Rob Parlante
With the recent advent of social media, the word friend has taken on a broader meaning. For example, when we friend someone on social media, we add them to a list of contacts associated with that networking site. Out of curiosity, I asked my 22 year old daughter how many friends she has on one particular social media website and she told me she had about 500 friends. That’s a lot of friends. Some have thousands of friends on social media sites. The majority of these types of friends are just contacts added to a list. Many aren’t known personally, or are communicated with personally, face to face, or one on one. They are just in a sense, a contact. I have a question, is a contact on social media a real friend? What constitutes a real genuine friendship? A wise Christian once told me that in your life time, you will only have 2-3 truly genuine close friends. So what’s a real friend look like, what is the criterion of real friendship? Webster’s dictionary defines a friend as a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. A friend is known personally and there is a bond of mutual affection between two individuals. That’s how Webster’s defines a friend, what does the bible say about friendship? Jesus gives us His definition of friendship in John 15:15. Let’s look at John 15:5 in the amplified version.
John 15:15 (AMP) 15 I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]
The context of this verse is Jesus teaching the apostles about abiding in Him. That abiding in Him is the sources of all fruit in their lives. He illustrates this by describing Himself as the vine, and the apostles as branches. Jesus’s life flows through the vine, into the branches and this produces fruit in their lives. I define abiding as continuing and remaining in a close intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the source of all fruit, joy and vibrancy in the Christian life. The apostles and all believers have a daily choice to abide in Him, or not to abide in Him. This has nothing to do with ones salvation which is secure and can never be lost, but the actions one takes to continually cling to and hug Jesus. With that said, Jesus in John 15:15 tells the apostles that He no longer calls them servants, but calls them friends. He says a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. A servant is one who just follows orders and carries out tasks. A servant is one who doesn’t have a mutual bond of affection with his master. The servant doesn’t know intimate details of his master’s life. But a friend is different; Jesus says you are my friend because I am revealing intimate details of Myself to you. He says I have made know to you everything I have heard from My Father. Do you see the difference in the relationship here? One is following orders and doing tasks as a servant, the other is a deeper relationship, based on abiding and communicating intimately with Jesus. This is Jesus’s definition of friend. The apostles are friends, and likewise all believers, because Jesus makes Himself known to us in a personal way. The change in the Apostles relationship from servant to friend also is a picture of man transitioning from being under the Law, to being under Grace. Under Grace, we are friends of Jesus and no longer a servant who follows orders. Under Grace as a friend, we can serve Jesus because of our mutual bond of affection (love) for Him. Wow isn’t it awesome to be a friend of Jesus. Isn’t it mind boggling that we are friends with God?
I want to finish off by saying that Jesus wants to be your friend. Like on social media websites, Jesus is sending you a friend request. Will you accept Jesus’s friend request? This friendship won’t be just a contact who you really don’t know personally. No, Jesus wants to come into your heart, and make known to you His love for you. He wants you to bear His fruit by abiding in Him. Once you become Jesus friend, He will never unfriend you. He will never unfriend you based on what you do or don’t do. He won’t unfriend you even if you sin. Your status as a friend will never change, it’s an eternal friendship. Jesus wants you to depend on Him for your life, abide in Him and to have a close intimate relationship with you. You transition from a servant to a friend comes by faith in Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins. By faith you transition from being under law, to being under Grace.
Will you accept Jesus’s friend request?
If you would like to learn more about the truths described here, come join us at Grace Christian Church, currently meeting at the Freehold VFW, every Sunday at 9:30 am.
Rob Parlante – Elder / Grace Christian Church