'Friendship is something we know from our experience. It is something which occurs between human beings, it assumes some sort of equality which these other images don’t. To be called friends of the Lord, then, may seem strange to us. It obliterates the distance between us and Jesus, and frankly this might make us a little uncomfortable.'
Over the past couple of weeks we have been exploring some of the images Jesus uses to describe his relationship to those joined with him in baptism. We heard of how Jesus the Good Shepherd protects, guides, and feeds his sheep. We heard of how Jesus the vine nourishes his branches to produce good fruit.
are many more images in Scripture for our relationship with Christ. Perhaps on
Mother’s Day we might at least mention the passage in Luke where Jesus
expresses his desire to gather the people of Jerusalem under his wings as a mother
hen with her chicks. Though that desire was not fulfilled, we might presume
that Jesus does the same for his Church.
might seem too much. We might picture ourselves sheep, in need of feeding and
watering, protection and guidance. We could even imagine ourselves as branches
on a vine, clinging to Christ for life and needing his strength to produce good
fruit in our lives.
friendship is something we know from our experience. It is something which
occurs between human beings, it assumes some sort of equality which these other
images don’t. To be called friends of the Lord, then, may seem strange to us.
It obliterates the distance between us and Jesus, and frankly this might make
us a little uncomfortable.
to explore this, because there are many different understandings of friendship
in the world, and various degrees of friendship. Many of us have Facebook
accounts, and we know that we get many friend requests from people who aren’t
really our friends, who may not know us. At most they may be our acquaintances.
I have my own personal rules about which friend requests I accept. But I think
that we can agree that this friendship with Jesus is not the superficial
friendship we’re talking about.
people think of friendship with Jesus as the idea that he is ‘approachable.’ We
don’t have to treat him as if he is someone high and mighty, bowing and
scraping to him. He’s someone we can relate to, with whom we can be real. If he
were to show up at our house we could offer him a beer and he’d watch the game
with us. He’d go out with us to those places where you drink wine and paint a
picture. We could tell him a joke, even a somewhat irreverent or off-color one,
and he’d laugh.
maybe he’s the kind of friend, we might think, whom we could call when we were
in trouble, as if we had been arrested and thrown in jail and had the
proverbial one phone call. He wouldn’t judge us, he’d come and bail us out, and
he’d be a character witness – he knows who we really are or who we’d like to
Jesus certainly does love sinners, to the point of eating and drinking with
them in his earthly life, it’s not this kind of friendship he means, either.
But if he shows up at your house for a meal, I want to be the first to know.
friendship to which our Lord calls us is a deep friendship, an intimate
friendship. It is not just the kind where we share our secrets with him, though
this does happen. But what is more amazing is that he shares his secrets with
us. He brings us into his inner circle. He trusts us with his plans; and
entrusts us with carrying them out.
awesome responsibility! In essence, Roosevelt was asking Hopkins to make the
decision on his behalf. Hopkins could never have done this without knowing
exactly what the President wanted, but more importantly, he could never have
acted without believing that he trusted him to make the decision based on his
This is the kind of friendship into which
Jesus calls us. He reveals to us his whole will and then trusts us do our
parts, using our best judgment on how to do it. Jesus chooses us as friends and
entrusts us with his name and message.
wonder if we really are the people Jesus wants to do this. But there are two
things we need never say as Christians. The first thing we need never say is
that we haven’t been told what God is up to.
Scriptures communicate the story of God, from his creation of the world to his
choosing of ancient Israel to his sending of the Son to save all nations from
evil, sin, and death. If we don’t know the Scriptures well enough – and who
does? we might start to know them better. But in our liturgy, creeds and the
Great Thanksgiving we recite the mighty acts of God in confession and praise.
we know what God has done in Jesus Christ, and we know what he is doing through
the Holy Spirit of Jesus: forgiving sins, delivering from evil, raising from
second thing never need to say is that we don’t know what God wants us to do.
We know that God reveals in Scripture, in Old Testament, New Testament, in the
words of our Lord Jesus what he desires for us. He empowers us to use our best
judgment in our specific actions, based on the guidance our Lord has given us.
We can know what God desires of us because we can know the mind of our friend,
confident that he chooses us and empowers us to act in his name.
It is said that John the Evangelist that in his last days he would simply repeat to
those around him, ‘Love one another.’ It was the words of his friend he was
remembering, and he was doing his will by passing them on to those whom his
Lord also called friends. As those who in baptism have been made friends of the
Lord, let us continue to learn his mind and to be his emissaries: for he lives
and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.