Okay, so last night was the lesson in Experiencing God (by Henry Blackaby) about obedience and I found something that was truly interesting. Here's the deal:
In my Bible I have underlined and dated the first time a scripture is preached or taught at my church. I know I'm a little OCD about it, but it has provided some insight into the things that are being emphasized and the things that are swept under the carpet.
Now keep in mind I started doing this little underlining thing when I got my new Bible in 1997. So that's about 15 years worth of sermons/lessons. If I figured them all up I don't know how many it would be, but suffice it to say quite a few.
The lesson last night highlighted John 15:14, specifically. This is the whole passage 11-15 of John 15.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. John 15:11-15 (MSG)
This is a very popular passage (at least in my Bible), but I thought one thing was very strange. Verse 14: You are my friends if you do what I command. (NIV) was skipped over. The previous verses 11-13 were underlined and verse 15 was underlined. Weird huh?
What I got from the lesson was this, Jesus IS always our friend. But the way we show Him we are His is by being obedient. The command is what is emphasized, which it should be, but this part really struck a chord in me last night. That we are not friends back unless we LOVE one another the way Jesus loved us. His command has been to love one another. Love, love, love! When I seriously considered that Jesus might not think I was His friend too, it stopped me in my tracks.
That reminded me of another verse that is sometimes less emphasized and that is FIRST John 3:16 -
This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 1 John 3:16-17 (MSG)
If we continue to sin and continue to ask for forgiveness we are babies in Christ. Just singing praise on Sunday mornings is not being Jesus' friend. Just praying over and over to have conflict resolution or for missionaries across the county isn't enough.
But if we DO what God says. Actually DO what Jesus commands, we will love one another and then we will be called a friend of God.