That statement in John 15:15 – “..but I have called you friends” – astounds me, stops me in my tracks. The Son of God calls… ME … friend. It doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I can understand why I have some of the friends that I have. For example, we both like sports or we attend the same church or we work at the same place.
All of those are good reasons to be friends, but that isn’t what Jesus is looking at when He calls us friend.
It’s His love for us that he looks at. It’s the fact that we are made in the image of God. It’s the fact that He simply, yet astonishingly — just loves us. IT IS WHO HE IS.
The thing is though, I didn’t always understand that fact. I knew about it, but I didn’t know it. I knew it like a historical fact. I acted like I knew it, because I felt like I should and it seemed that everyone else did.
That phrase, “Jesus is my BFF”, seemed to be everywhere. It was in Sunday School, it was in sermons, it was on t-shirts, and coffee mugs. If that many people around me were BFFs with Jesus, then by default, I had to be BFFs with Jesus also, right?
I went to church, I didn’t cuss unless it was on accident, I didn’t do drugs, and I read the Bible every night. I even had Psalm 23 memorized in KJV. Of course Jesus wanted to be MY friend! I was a perfect candidate! I might not get picked first on Jesus’ team, but I sure wasn’t getting picked last.
However, even after falsely justifying why I should be Jesus’ friend, it still seemed somewhat like a fantasy.
To be honest, Jesus was more like an imaginary friend than a “real” friend. And just like an imaginary friend, when it seemed like fun or at the appropriate time I could call on Him. And just like an imaginary friend, when I didn’t want to acknowledge Him or when I felt like doing something else… I could.
Pretty simple, but it is also simple to see that this isn’t what real “friends” do.
Real friends share secrets.
Real friends want to hang out and spend time together.
A real friend is always the first person you run to when you royally screw up and make a mess in life.
I knew something was wrong with my friend equation, because Jesus was the LAST person that I wanted to know about my dirty little secrets.
Truthfully, I didn’t want spend time with Jesus unless it was at church or at an “appropriate” and “convenient time”. Going to school, work, etc… those hours were for me. And in case I wanted to do something ungodly it was convenient that “He wasn’t there”.
And when I royally screwed up in life? My Plan A was to run from Jesus, not to Him.
This obviously wasn’t a correct thought process.
Real friends are the people you feel comfortable with no matter what.
No makeup? No problem.
Don’t have a plan for the day? That’s fine, because it’s fun just to be with them.
And you don’t have to impress them; they just understand you. You laugh together, cry together, and rejoice together. Good times or bad, it doesn’t matter.
Friends are great, but real friends are priceless. That is the kind of relationship Jesus wants with us.
It was painful, but one day I finally made the vividly clear realization that I was not BFFs with Jesus. I was pretending I was, without being bold enough to ask the question, “Am I really?”
Until we ask that question, we are powerless to change. We are stuck right where we are. If you don’t ask, “Do I need to change?” How will you ever know?
Jesus says in Matthew 28:20 “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. This is His last statement before He ascends into Heaven so it must be important.
When you live with Jesus as your friend, your whole life changes. Attending church is different, going to work is different, everything is just… well, different.
Friends make you a different person. They give you boldness, courage, and an incentive to say “No” to fear.
I remember growing up as kid and taking the dog out late at night in the pitch dark. It always kind of freaked me out. If I ever got more than just a few dozen feet from the house I would always turn and sprint back into the house as soon as the dog had finished its’ business.
Would I have done that if you had been there with me?
Of course not. First, that would look kind of ridiculous… a 23 year … I mean 13-year-old kid running across the yard like a lunatic for no reason.
And secondly, I wouldn’t be afraid because you were with me.
There is strength in numbers, especially when it is Jesus.
Since Jesus is with you always, you don’t have to run from things in life. You have the power to overcome, persevere, and endure.
Remember, you are best friends with the one who has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
And greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)
So, if you ask the hard questions and you realize like I did, that you aren’t BFFs with Jesus. What do you do?
Pray, seek, and ask. And I wouldn’t avoid the hard questions or tip toe around the difficulties.
I would do whatever I could to know Him better. I would spend more time with Him. It may feel like duty at first, but I promise you that when you fall in love with Jesus that duty will transform into delight.
Real friends don’t happen overnight so don’t get discouraged. I can now honestly say that I don’t have a more real friend than Jesus, yet I still encounter rough patches. The things in this world are always vying for out attention, especially our time with God.
Commit today to really knowing Jesus. The more you seek Him, the more you will become passionate, consumed, entrapped, and obsessed with Him.
And good news…
Unlike your other friends, Jesus doesn’t need space and He doesn’t need breaks.