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  • Rev. Wanda E. Lawrence

What an Awesome Friend

Scripture Reading: John 15:1-15

Key verses: John 15:13-15

13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

John 15:13-15 (NKJV)

What is a friend?

Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself.

They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel that you can be your authentic self and still be accepted and loved, for who you are. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand those things that don’t line up in our nature, that may lead others to misjudge us. With a true friend we are able to live life more freely.

Friends understand us. There is nothing more freeing than being with someone, where we don’t have to explain ourselves and our thoughts constantly. It makes no difference to them our misgivings and in spite of them they still like us. You can cry with them, share memories with them, laugh with them, pray with them. Through it all--and underneath--they see, know, and love us. This is a friend.

Today we will look at our greatest friend who qualifies to be all of the above and so much more. He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The command to love as given by Jesus requires a supernatural component in order for us to fulfill it. It requires faith and is more a choice than an emotion. The priority for us as believers is to love God then one another since every believer is a part of the family of God. We are one Body of Christ.

You are My friends – aligns with our abiding in Christ since both result in the intimacy of friendship. This friendship is dependent on our obedience to Jesus commands and is demonstrated in the words, “if you do whatever I command”. Jesus directs us to God’s love from which friendship on His side has its beginning, in v.13 – and by the act of our obedience by which it is maintained in. v.14- and then to the holy intimacy of friendship to which it will lead us to have with Him in v. 15.

It is always important for us to reflect on all the relationships that God has blessed us with here on earth. If fortunate we will have true friends we can connect with and rely on. The truth of the matter is that if we do not spend time with our friends by calling, spending alone time with them etc. our friendship will begin to weaken and as time passes by, it may even decline. In order to show our love and friendship we must give up ourselves, by intentionally sharing our lives and time. The same is also true with our friend, Jesus. We must be intentional about spending time with Him in prayer, the Word of God, worship and in solitude to keep our relationship strong.

Our relationship to Jesus Christ is one of love and speaking of it He showed us what His love was the same love with which the Father had loved Him. Here we have in its earthly completion – the love of Jesus – who laid down his life for us, “greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”. We can see that Jesus does indeed, long to have us know that the secret path and strength of all that He is and does for us, as the vine, is love.

And as we learn to believe in this, we will feel that here is something that we not only need to think about and know about the power of divine life – but we must also know we need to receive it within. God is love and Jesus Christ is love! God and Jesus; and the divine love can only be known by having them in our lives. And by their life and power working within us and through us through having a relationship with the Son, Christ Jesus. This is an eternal life that they know, as we see in John 17:3, “and this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”. For there is no knowing God, but by having the life - the life working in us – through Jesus Christ. Emmanuel!

Our life is the most precious gift a person has. Our life is all that we are. When a person gives their life, they hold nothing back. They give all that they have and that they are – it is this that our Lord Jesus Christ wants to make clear to us concerning His Work of the Vine, even with all He has; Jesus has placed Himself as our sacrifice. Jesus wants us to count Him as our very own and He wants to be completely our possession, that we may be completely, His possession.

He gave Himself to death that we might experience an abundant life. He is the true vine who lives in us - this is the beginning and the path of that holy friendship to which Jesus invites you and me to partakers. Yes, there is a mystery of how we can truly live a godly life, but let us confess our lack of understanding and unbelief. We must wait for the Holy Spirit who dwells within us to reveal it to us and let us trust His infinite love which gave its life for us -- to take control of our being and rejoice in making us completely His own. Jesus has said what He gave as proof of His friendship. He gave His life for you and for me and He now tells us what our part is to be. To do the things that he commands. Jesus gave His life to secure a place, for His love in our hearts to rule us and the response His love calls us to and empowers us to do is that we do what He commands us. As you and I now experience the love for which He died we will joyfully, obey His commands and as we obey His commands, we will experience Jesus love even more fully. For he has said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love,” John 15:10a

Our whole relationship to Christ has become full of worldly concepts and actions that have lowered us, to our standards and not God’s standards and principles. The waiting on His teaching and the power to discern and obey His voice will create obedience to enjoy His love and His friendship. We must try to be true to God’s Word, to take His Word literally and to do whatever Jesus ask us to do; to show we are His friends. We must always remember, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Surely, our Lord asked nothing less than that we truthfully and willfully say, "yes Lord what you command that will I do." Yes, we may fall and not act daily to fulfill Jesus commands, but it will bear evidence to our friendship with Jesus, when we continue to strive to do so – for the power to do what Jesus asks; rests entirely in our personal relationship to Jesus. The very freedom to claim and to give testimony about the friendship of Jesus, the power to enjoy it, the grace to prove it, in all it's blessedness, all come as we do the things that He commands and asks us to do. As our Lord has revealed Himself to us in the dying love by which He proved Himself to be our friend and now we must listen and obey, as He says to us, "you are my friends".

As you and I see what our friend has done for us and what unspeakable blessedness it is to have Jesus call us friends, the doing of His commands will become the natural fruit of our life; in His love and out of our love for Him. Friends we will not fear to say, "yes Lord we are your friends and we do whatsoever You command of us."

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