What would it be like to have an intimate friendship with Jesus? I have been pondering this lately and can’t get away from what Jesus said to His disciples:
“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 ESV)
The core of what Jesus is saying is that His friends love one another and bear the fruit of the ‘upside-down’ kingdom of God.
If I want to deepen my friendship with Jesus I will walk in love. That sounds wonderfully easy, just be kind and loving. And if I was kind and loving by nature it would be easy. But I am not and it isn’t.
I am sinful by nature and despite being grafted into the life-giving vine, I’m still wild and need pruning in order to bear kingdom fruit (Romans 11:17, John 15:1-2). Love is not my natural inclination. Besides, God’s definition of love is a lot higher than the world’s.
The friends of Jesus love their enemies, have no fear for their lives, are humble as children are, daily deny themselves, are not anxious, hope in all things and endure all things. That is not what I am like by nature, I need God’s Spirit to create this fruit in my life. (See Matthew 5:44, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 18:4, Luke 9:23, Luke 12:22, and 1 Corinthians 13:4–7).
Fortunately Jesus knew His disciples well, knows human nature well, knows me well and knows you. He knows that we are not already holy, He requires of us to simply begin the journey and humbly entrust all we are into His hands. If I do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Jesus, He will make the fruit grow.
It is good for me to keep reminding myself what Jesus expects of His friends, that way it is no surprise when He demands these things of me. I am better prepared then to humbly walk with Him rather than resisting and sinfully going my own way — tearing friendship apart.
Image of Tibetian friends: Moosa_Kahn