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What is a friend? Perhaps you would say that a friend is someone who is there for me. Or, maybe you would say a friend is someone you can trust or someone that you enjoy spending time with. While these things are all marks of a healthy friendship, is there more to friendship for those of us who are Jesus followers?
How does Jesus define a loving friendship?
In John chapter 15, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about love and true friendship.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down
his life for his friends. - John 15:13
Jesus Defines Love. Love is a word that has been trivialized and reduced to a fleeting biological response in our culture. However, Jesus defines love in a richer and deeper way. Jesus said that there is no greater love than when a person lays down his life for another. According to Jesus, love is defined by a person choosing personal sacrifice for the good of others.
Jesus perfectly demonstrated this love through His humble incarnation, selfless service, and, ultimately, laying down His very life as a ransom for many. As followers of Jesus Christ with Christ dwelling within us, we should hold to this definition of love that is light years beyond what we hear about in pop culture. Our demonstration of love should mirror Jesus’ perfect example of personal sacrifice.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. - John 15:15
Jesus Defines Friendship. Like love, friendship is a word in our culture that has been minimized and trivialized to mean only sharing common interests or spending time in proximity to one another. As followers of Christ, our definition of a loving friendship must exceed the way culture defines a loving friendship. Jesus’ relationship with His disciples gives us a true picture of loving friendship.
Jesus spent quality time with His disciples and was there for His disciples. Jesus and His disciples had numerous shared experiences… BUT, above all, Jesus demonstrated true loving friendship by sharing with His disciples what He heard from the Father (John 15:15). In doing this, Jesus defined something absolute about true loving friendship. Friends make known the love of God to their friends.
It was apparently unimaginable to Jesus to call these men friends and not make known to them what the Father had made known to Him. As an overflow of His abiding relationship with His Father, while on earth, Jesus continually spoke and made known to His friends all that the Father made known to Him.
A response at this point might be, ”Well that’s Jesus…and I’m not Jesus.” But remember what Jesus said regarding our relationship with Him.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. - John 15:4 ESV
At its core, following Jesus is an abiding relationship with Christ himself. He is the vine, and we are the branches. We draw our life and vitality from Him. Christianity is Christ in me and I and Him. Therefore, as we abide in Jesus, we will love like Jesus. We will share like Jesus. It will be inconceivable to us to call someone a friend and not share the Gospel with them.
As a church, we are asking God to create a culture among us that is characterized by making Jesus known. At TCBC we refer to this as #Share1515. It is NOT a program or a class. #Share1515 is a recurring reminder from John 15:15 that, “friends make known the love of God.”
Followers of Jesus have an infinitely higher view of love. Followers of Jesus have an infinitely higher view of friendship. Followers of Jesus make known the love of God to our friends.
Mike Laughrun has served as Lead Pastor at Tri-Cities Baptist Church since January of 2011. He and his wife Jennifer have been married since 1995 and have five children.