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On today’s podcast, we will discuss, “𝐁𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐆𝐨𝐝 𝐇𝐚𝐬 𝐁𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭𝐬” on RIOT Podcast, a Christian Discipleship Podcast.
Today we continue our reading in 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧 𝟏𝟓:𝟏𝟐-𝟏𝟕, and we will see the common theme we have read over the last three chapters: that we are to love one another. When we bear fruit in our lives, one of the byproducts is that we love others as Christ first loved us. In 𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐰 𝟐𝟐:𝟑𝟕-𝟒𝟎, Jesus is asked what the most important commandment is. He shared with them the Jewish Shema, a prayer said by Jews every morning and evening that states that the Lord God is one and that we should love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, and might. Then He added a second commandment, that we should love our neighbor as ourselves; all the law and prophets hang on these two commandments.
We see Jesus here telling His disciples that they are no longer just servants, but that they are His friends. Many of us have a large number of friends who are not close to us and only a few who are in our inner circle. We also have friends who have turned on us or that have been unfaithful and betrayed us, such as Judas Iscariot. To be honest, even our closest friends can let us down when we need them the most. When Peter, James, and John should have been praying, they went to sleep in the garden, and Peter, even denied Jesus three times. Jesus is saying that the only person that will never let you down in Him.
Being a friend and a servant are not mutually exclusive. Abraham is the perfect example of this. According to 𝟐 𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝟐𝟎:𝟕, he was a “friend of God” and a “servant of God”. God desires that we have a deep friendship with Him, but in order to do so, we must remain in Him and obey Him. The more we get to know Him, the more we become acquainted with his thoughts, ideas, and purposes. It’s then that the incredible intimacy and love grow within us as a result of that. God will never stop loving us in spite of us, but we cannot know Him as a friend if we don’t remain in Him.
This kind of relationship that Jesus is describing is supernatural, it is unlike anything any of us will ever experience here on earth. It is a relationship of deep love, both for Him and for each other. The friends of the King, could not compete with each other for attention or promotion. They were a part of the inner circle, not to promote themselves but to serve their King.
How is it possible that Jesus commands us to love one another? Can true love be commanded?
We must remember that Christian love is not simply a feeling, it is a deliberate act. The evidence of our love is not in our feelings, but in our actions, even if it means laying down our lives for Christ and one another. Jesus gave His life for both His friends and His enemies (Romans 5:10) While emotions are definitely involved in how we love it's more than that. True Christian love is an act of will and a byproduct of the fruit we produce. We can love naturally as Christ loves when we remain in Him.
One of the greatest privileges of being a friend of Jesus is getting to know God better and learning God's secrets. Servants get first dibs, and each of us can get as close to Jesus as we want. We are His friends, and we should be near the throne, hearing His word, enjoying His intimacy, and obeying His commands.
In 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧 𝟏𝟒:𝟏𝟔 Jesus reminded the men that they had this privileged position only because of His grace. They did not choose Him, it was He that chose them! In 𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧 𝟏𝟒:𝟏𝟗 He said He chose them out of the world and ordained them to do His will. So, because God chooses us to do His work, does this take away our free will?
No, as we have always said, He will not force us to be His friends; we must act in obedience in order to experience intimacy with Jesus. The word ordained means "appointed" in this context. It refers to the act of distinguishing someone for special service. The Lord has graciously chosen and sets us apart to go into the world and bear His fruit. He is telling His disciples that He is sending them out into the world as His personal ambassadors to tell and witness Himself to others. Friends of Christ bear fruit and advance the kingdom of God.
𝐉𝐨𝐡𝐧 𝟏𝟓:𝟓 says the evidence that we know we are Jesus’s disciples is because we bear fruit. We are in the kingdom-building business with Jesus. Where there is true fruit, it remains forever. But if it is manufactured by Man, done in the flesh by man’s own power, then that fruit will eventually disappear.
Jesus closes this part of His message by reminding them and us of the most important commandment of all: Love one another. There are dozens of “one another” statements in the New Testament, but all of them are summarized in “Love one another”.
To wrap up everything today, we can put it like this; Being a friend of God has many spiritual and practical benefits. Friendship with God is a source of strength, comfort, and peace. It provides a feeling of being connected to something greater than ourselves. We can draw on His wisdom and power to help us through life’s challenges. God’s friendship offers us guidance. He knows our personality, strengths, and weaknesses. He knows what is best for us and can provide direction as we make decisions. He can also offer protection from harm and danger. Being a friend of God can give us the insight to make the best choices and to trust in His plan for our lives.
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