Our friends’ son, Caleb, was about 5 years old when the worship song “I am a Friend of God” was popular. He would walk around the house singing it… almost. His lyrics were “I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God; He calls me Frank!”
I appreciate my last name because I can always tell when a caller on the phone is a tele-marketer as opposed to a friend. They say, ‘Hello, Mr. Stud.’ I’ve also been called Don Stut, Dan Stump and even Mr. Fudd. I mean, come on, that’s not even close! (If you’re curious, it’s pronounced ‘Stoot’).
The Apostle John records the words he heard from Jesus’ own mouth the night before he was crucified. It’s clear that Jesus’ last message to his disciples before his death and resurrection made a significant impression on John—a quarter of his entire gospel recounts the last night Jesus spent with his disciples!
Jesus said, “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…” (John 15:13-16a)
Can you believe it!?! Jesus has chosen you to be his friend. He says it right there. “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” The God of the Universe considers us to be His friend. How incredible is that!
So how do friends relate? Friends work together, share what is on their mind with one another and are willing to sacrificially give of themselves for the good of the other.
I have two sons, and we hike together during the summer. We’ve been tackling the 46 highest mountains in New York State. And yeah… I know they’re not as high as many other mountains, but at the same time, the task we have undertaken is not easy. So far this summer we have hiked over 120 miles and climbed almost 35,000 feet in elevation to summit 16 mountains.
Our friendship has grown over the course of the time we have spent together.
I am their Dad, so I have a position of responsibility and authority in their lives. We all know that changes from infancy to childhood to the teen years and into adulthood. And while I know that their primary friend group is with people their age, I do consider them friends for a number of reasons.
First, we work together to accomplish common goals. When we are out in the woods, we carry everything we need to live on our backs. We work together to prepare for the trip, consider one another as we’re hiking and climbing, and help each other set up camp, cook, filter water and basically survive.
Second, hiking together provides the space and time for heart connection. Not only do we share what is on our heart, but the common experience and accomplishment provides a stronger basis of relationship which then provides for more connection when we return home.
Finally, we are willing to sacrificially give of ourselves if the situation calls for it. The reality is that there are bears where we hike and camp. In fact, one male black bear became so accustomed to getting food from tents and people that he had to be put down a few weeks ago! While we have thankfully never encountered a bear and take great care in preparing and storing our food so as not to attract them to our campsite, the reality is that they are present in the woods. At the beginning of July, we were camping in an area where the bear had recently been charging at people and ripping open tents to get food. I had to pray myself to sleep one night in that immediate area. While it’s never been tested, if we were to ever run across a bear, I do picture myself getting between the bear and my boys.
Dear Saints, Jesus wants to work with you to produce fruit… fruit that will last. That common cause is for your good and His glory. He wants to share with you all that he has heard from the Father. And He has stood between you and our greatest enemies: sin, death and Satan.
Dear Saints, Jesus has chosen you as his friend. Believe it and enjoy the journey together!