"There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends, if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. You didn’t choose Me, I chose you..." (John 15:13-16a / NLT)
I've been blessed with quite a number of true and excellent friends in my lifetime. In every station of life, I have always had one or two persons with whom I had enjoyed an especially close friendship. Since surrendering myself fully to Jesus as the Lord of my life at age 17, all of my closest friendships have been "in the Lord."
One of the reasons that is so important for us is that, since Jesus lives in the hearts of His people by the Holy Spirit, we are drawn closer to Jesus as we relate to others closely in whom He truly reigns as Lord. I believe this is precisely what John the apostle was inviting others into in his day when he wrote...
"We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ." (I John 1:3)
So there is a wonderful friendship... a deep fellowship that is to be pursued and enjoyed by us all "in the Lord" with others in whom He clearly reigns supreme! To be around Christians in whom the Lord does not clearly reign supreme is nice, but not near so wonderful. And the reason is clear... that person's center... their governing principle... the highest delight... their chief ambition... well, it is something or someone else. For some, it is sports. For others, it is profession. For others, some personal ambition or quest. For others, some other person(s) in their life. But that difference in primary focus makes all the difference in the world to the depth and meaning with which I find I can relate to another in truly close friendship.
Now all of that leads me to now to this... a wise Christian will learn, in a real and practical way, to seek and enjoy his / her closest friendship of all with Jesus HIMSELF! Can you even begin to imagine what that could mean to you to have JESUS AS YOUR VERY BEST & CLOSEST FRIEND?!
Think of it! As I shared on Sunday, a true friend...
I. KNOWS US WELL (rd. Psalm 139:1-12)
No one you have ever or will ever know and relate to in life knows you even
a fraction as well as Jesus knows you! He knows your thoughts while you
think them, and before a word passes your tongue, He already knows precisely
what you will say! And a true friend...
II. LOVES YOU IN SPITE OF WHAT HE KNOWS (John 15:13, above)
The measure of a friend is the investment that friend is willing to put into
a relationship with you. Think of the investment Jesus made to have a
close relationship with you! He left the splendor of Heaven, laying aside
the attributes of His divine nature, wrapped Himself in frail humanity, and
gave up every drop of His blood to agonizing, torturous, inhumane and
unjust judgment of your sins to for you. You didn't ask Him to do this
for you. He saw your need and did it before you realized it. And you
didn't chose Him for a friend... He chose you! And a true friend is...
III. INTERESTED IN THE CLOSEST RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU (rd. Rev. 3:20)
Jesus wants that with you! His greatest interest as it relates to you
is to live in you and go everywhere with you all the time... to eat with you
when you eat... to travel with you when you travel... to work with you
when you work... and to watch over you when you sleep or when you
are walking in a dangerous place. He is the PERFECT FRIEND! And as
IV. SYMPATHIZES WITH YOU IN ALL YOUR TRIALS (rd. Heb. 4:14-16).
Oh, what a BLESSING to have a truly sympathetic friend! He did not
come to judge and condemn you for your weaknesses or to rag in your
defeats! Jesus is a TOTALLY sympathetic friend who you can lay out
your heart and needs to with no sense that He will judge or condemn
you for your heartfelt honesty to Him! And what's more, He will be...
V. RIGHT THERE TO HELP YOU ANY TIME YOU NEED HIM (rd, Prov. 17:17)
When you're hurting... He will be there to help! When you're tempted or
defeated... He will be there to help and to lift you up! When you've blown
it... He will not turn from you, but will gently pick you up and help you
recover from it and be there constantly to help you rebuild!
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus is not ashamed to call you brethren (Heb. 2:11).
But what's more, He has CHOSEN you for a friend! Oh, walk closely with Him!
Take full advantage of this PRICELESS, ALTOGETHER UNMERITED GIFT OF
JESUS AS YOUR CLOSEST FRIEND OF ALL!
I assure you, if you will, YOU will be a far stronger and like new person!
And, you will find that you yourself will be a great friend to others - even
to sinners, who need Jesus as badly as you and I!
'til we finish the race,
p.s. His contemporaries said of Him, 'He's a... friend of tax collectors
and sinners!' Oh, I am so glad He is! Because that's what made
it possible for me to be His friend! Don't miss out on the GREATEST
FRIENDSHIP YOU CAN EVER HAVE!!!