Borrowing the language of social media, one might say that God has “friended” us. Jesus said it this way: “I no longer call you servants . . . Instead, I have called you friends” (NIV). Think about that for a moment! The God of the universe, the One who speckled the nighttime sky with stars, who set boundaries for the oceans, who sent the planets spinning through space, is the same God who calls each of us "friend."
Jesus has every reason to call us the opposite of “friend.” Perhaps “enemy” would be a better name for us, as we constantly break God’s commands and God’s heart. In the best-case scenario, Jesus might call us “servant,” forever indebted to our Master in Heaven. But Jesus calls each of us his friend.
Not only does Jesus call us his friends but he was willing to pay the ultimate price for us—death on a cross. By dying for us, Jesus destroyed the labels of “enemy” and “servant” forever. Through his sacrifice, Jesus made certain that he had established a friendship that would not only last a lifetime but would endure for all eternity.
As friends of Jesus, we are called to offer sacrificial friendship to others, even if it means laying down our life for a friend. At the very least, as followers of Jesus we are commanded to lay down our life for him, to take up our own cross and follow him, whatever that might look like.
I am thankful that Jesus calls us his friends. I give thanks that this friendship with Jesus is unconditional and will last forever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being my friend even though I’ve done nothing to deserve it. I praise you for your kindness to me. Amen.
The Acts passage continues to tell the story of the advance of the gospel. The Holy Spirit falls on a group of Gentiles. They believe and are baptized, thus showing God’s inclusion of all peoples in the plan of salvation. Psalm 98 is a simple declaration of praise. All creation will sing to and rejoice in the Lord. The two passages from John are linked by their emphasis on the relationship between love and obedience. We do not follow God’s commandments in order to make God love us. On the contrary, because God has first loved us and we love God in return, we follow God’s teachings. Jesus provides the model for us, being obedient to his Father out of love.
Read Acts 10:44-48. When has the Spirit of God brought you to a new understanding?
Read Psalm 98. Where have you encountered “a joyful noise” in creation? How do you make a joyful noise in praise of God?
Read 1 John 5:1-6. When have you considered God’s commands as burdensome? When have you found them freeing?
Read John 15:9-17. Are you accustomed to thinking of your relationship with Jesus as a mutual friendship? If so, what does it mean to you to be Jesus’ friend?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.