No one reading this could possibly say that they’ve never been in a relationship. I don’t mean a romantic relationship like boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. I mean relationships such as friends or family. We all have a family, and we’ve all had a friend at some point in our lives.
So what makes a friend a friend? What is so special about friends?
Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
The inference of the passage is that there is a difference between a companion and a friend. When we ask this question of ourselves, different ideas flood our minds as to what the difference between a companion and a friend is. I’ve heard a comedic one-liner which says, “Friends help you move, but real friends help you move bodies”. While slightly morbid, it does drive home the point that ‘real’ friends have a much deeper relationship with us then just companions. In essence we share our lives with our friends, but only share moments with companions.
As we share our lives we start to take our friend’s well-being into consideration before our own. I myself when I think of someone I would classify as a ‘real’ friend (not just a companion) I think of words like sacrifice, love, care, help, confiding, etc.
Christ said in John 15, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. 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.”
What do you think it would have been like to be one of Jesus friends when he was here on earth? How much easier do you think your life would be now, if you had Jesus as a close personal friend like they did then?
Let’s imagine on the off chance that you and I were quote-unquote ‘friends’. However I didn’t hang out with you. I didn’t help you. I didn’t listen to you. I didn’t visit with you, but I would from time to time phone you and ask you to help me with things.
“Come help me move”.
Come help me mow the lawn, or shovel some dirt.”
“Hey Can you do a favour for me?”
“Hey can I have some of your lunch?”
“Hey can you give me lift?”
If the above represented our relationship, would you consider me your friend?
Many times in life we view Jesus like this. We seldom talk to Him, we seldom spend time in his word, and yet whenever we have troubles or need help, we continually bombard Him with asked favours, or help, and we give nothing in return. Like a cosmic gumball machine we put in our quarter prayer, and expect a prize in the end.
But Jesus wants to be our friend. This is sometimes hard for us to understand because He’s not physically here before us. However, he left us three special gifts that are amazing if we remember to use them correctly. He left us the Bible, The Holy Spirit and prayer. All things that He, God, decided that we need for a relationship for Him. He didn’t make a mistake. We have everything we need to draw close to him.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." – Matt 11:28-30
Jesus invites all burdened individuals to come to Him for rest, yet so often we misunderstand what He is offering. When stresses and problems weigh us down, the most natural response is to ask God for relief: "Lord, I can’t carry this anymore. Please Help me." We then assume that he will pick up the load. Having dumped the burden like a bag of garbage, we walk away but remained unchanged inside.
God doesn’t operate that way. Christ’s invitation is to join Him in the yoke so you can walk and work together. He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me”. But he also says, “My yoke is easy”.
He doesn’t want just your burden - He wants you! The yoke of Christ is a symbol of discipleship, characterized by submission and obedience to Him.
You are my friends if you do what I command you. - John 15:14
God’s goal isn’t simply to give relief by removing a weighty trial or affliction. He longs to draw you to Himself in a close and trusting relationship. Those who take Him up on His offer will be transformed and won’t ever turn back. Why would you? Who would rather do chores alone then do it with a friend?
Our load begins to lighten when we start to trust in Christ. The burden sometimes is not easily removed, but like those close friends we talked about earlier, we begin to love and trust him, believing in his promises and relying on his power. As we do this more and more, our perspective becomes more Christ centered and the weight of our afflictions transfer from our shoulder to his we experience relief. Even though the situation may not have changed, and it’s still troublesome or hard work at least we’re doing it together.
Being a friend of Christ and taking His yoke upon us will give us rest in our innermost soul. Life’s pressures may not lesson but when we are friends with Jesus we are free from anxiety and we can rely on the peace of knowing Him personally.
Rest in Jesus. Spend time with Him. Talk to Him in Prayer. Listen to Him through the reading of His Word, and don’t worry - Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would help us in this.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26
So as we wrap up this article, I’ll leave us all with a couple of questions.
- Do you pray regularly?
- Do you read your Bible? and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand?
I guess what I’m asking is, “Are you friends with Jesus?”
Serving the King,