He calls us friends

As I wrote the previous post on true riches being in our relationships, I couldn’t help thinking about what Jesus said to His disciples the night before He died.

  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

What an incredible statement.  No power distance here.  No insistence on position.  Around the table, sharing a Passover meal together, He called them friends, knowing exactly who they were.  Friends share all kinds of things, depending on the level of trust – desires, motivations, struggles, aspirations, failures, joys.

His qualification for that word was sharing His heart with them – all that He had learned from the Father, He had shared with them.  Servants do as they are told; friends understand their friend’s heart.

His disciples were not His only friends.  He was known as a “friend of sinners” because He ate with people outside the socially acceptable circles.  He was criticized for that kind of love, for receiving hospitality from unlikely sources.

Something about Jesus’ calling to Zaccheus, who had climbed a tree in order to see Him, “I must come to  your house today!” brings a sense of the openness of Jesus, the welcoming of people that He lived.  That act, seeing and reaching out to Zaccheus, has kind of captured me.  It required a change in His line of sight- He had to look up to see him.  Jesus has this way of noticing people and inviting them in.

He both draws us into His circle of intimacy when we love Him and welcomes those who are seeking Him.   And somehow, we are the link that He’s counting on.

You know how it is when you want one group of your friends to meet another set of friends?  I think that’s how it’s supposed to be with Jesus.  My knowing Him means that His circle of friends expands because I know He wants to meet those I meet everyday.  He is seeking each one out and wooing them.  And He’s given us the privilege of making the introductions!

The question is -  am I willing to be the visible demonstration of His extending hand of friendship today?  I have to believe the world will be a more welcoming place if I am.

open hand

What do you think?  how can we reflect the love of Jesus to those we encounter everyday?

 

 

on friendship

“Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends.”

It's_A_Wonderful_Life

The movie, It’s a Wonderful Life,with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, is one of our family favorites. In the years before DVDs or even VHS, my dad was the one who would search the TV listings for when it would be showing on TV.  On Christmas Eve, after the presents were opened, we would almost always watch it together – those of us who could still keep our eyes open.  To this day, my brother and all of us get teary when we watch the old black and white film. You can call us sappy, but we won’t care.

We know the truth of the message of that movie. Every Christmas, even our gift exchanges remind us that what is truly great is the gift of knowing each other. Every birthday is a thanksgiving day for the gift of the person to us.

True riches are in our relationships – with God and with each other.

As I celebrated a birthday this past week, I have been reminded of that treasure. Some generous friends set the table for a feast of laughter and memories in honor of the occasion.  We savored moments that we have spent together over a delicious dinner.  I walked away full from more than the food, filled up by the moments we re-lived together.

I am enriched by each person God has brought into my life- some for just one or two conversations that are life-changing, others for decades of friendship that are sustaining and life-giving.

And to my friends, I want to say …

You have helped me to know God.

You have helped me to grow.

You have helped me to love better.

You have helped me hang in there when the going was tough.

You have brought both truth and comfort.

You have helped me celebrate milestones and achievements.

You have brought laughter and  joy.

You have brought understanding and insight.

You have brought practical help.

You have brought affirmation of gifts.

You have listened.

You have given me your time.

You have given me yourselves.

Thank you for your love and friendship; I am enriched in knowing you.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

 

easter people

One of my coworkers, a friend, a wonderful man, died this week.

In his sleep.  Sudden and unexpected.

Just like that.

Another friend’s brother died this week.  Expected but sooner than anticipated.

Shock, Sadness. Grief. Loss.

That sense of disbelief,  that this can not be real, but it is oh so real.

My friend, Judy, made this observation.

“We do not grieve as those with no hope¹.  We are Easter people.”

Easter people.  I like that.  This week of all weeks – being Easter people makes a difference.

This week, Holy Week, we remember the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

What it means for us who follow Jesus is that there is life after death.  His resurrection makes it so.  We have this hope of being together again because of what Jesus accomplished for us.

Of this world of life after death, God says,

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.

easter lilies against blue sky

The sin we see, the sin we do, the sin around us in every form will be gone. The life promised to us will be in its full form.  And we will be transformed in the holy presence of our incomparable King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. we have this hope. We celebrate Him this weekend, the One who loved us so much, He would lay down His own life to save us.

We are not only forgiven now; we will be reunited with those we love who also trust Jesus. In the face of death, we grieve our losses of beloved ones, and we rejoice that they have entered His presence. We will see them again in that glorious place at the time of God’s choosing.

We have hope.

We are Easter people.

¹I Thessalonians 4:13-18