“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13–15).
THE MAGNITUDE OF GOD’S GRACE IS NOWHERE SEEN MORE CLEARLY THAN IN HIS DESIRE FOR US TO BE HIS FRIENDS. We, of course, may reject the terms of His friendship. And when we refuse to remain within His purpose for us, we put ourselves in a place where our Friend’s goodwill can do us no ultimate good. “You are My friends,” Jesus said, “if you do whatever I command you.” A choice must be made between the world’s friendship and God’s (James 4:4), and the statement in John 1:11 is a sad one: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” Yet as long as life lasts, God is still inviting us to be His friends. No one has ever rejected God without breaking the heart of a Father who wishes to show us His love. We are staggered by this love when we hear Jesus say, even to Judas who led the mob when they came to arrest Him, “Friend, why have you come?” (Matthew 26:50).
So God’s desire to be friends with us is a truly amazing fact. But we should respond to this fact with more than mere amazement. We should seek God in a way that shows our gratitude for His offer, and our seeking should be characterized by the same faithfulness and obedience that God saw in His old friend Abraham. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God” (James 2:22,23). All these many years later, friendship with God must work the same way in our own lives. To be His friends, through His Son Jesus Christ, is no passive or slothful thing. It is the active enjoyment of all the thoughts and words and deeds that flow back and forth between those whose love is strong enough to govern their character and their conduct. It is in His gentle friendship that our Greatest Friend is always asking, “I gave My life for thee, what hast thou giv’n for Me?” (Frances R. Havergal).
“All the best qualities of friendship begin in Christ, advance through Christ, and are perfected in Christ” (Aelred of Rievaulx).