Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Friendship in the Jesus Community

Jesus told his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion that he was no longer calling them servants, but friends, in a favored, intimate kind of way (John 15). They were those who were learning to love each other and Jesus was opening his heart and teaching to them.

Jesus also, was accused, and rightfully so, of being a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Luke 7:34-35). This was certainly a new way of living for his disiples who lived in a society that valued in its religion, separation from those who were unclean, not part of the cleansed community of Israel. But Jesus was showing a new way. A holiness that touched the unclean, and rather than becoming unclean itself, made the unclean clean. Zaccheus saw it and was glad. His life was transformed (Luke 19).

Our churches or faith communities, communities of Jesus- if you will, really don't live up to their name if friendship isn't a major priority. Not just being friendly (a great start), but being friends (Rich Mullins). No matter what else is going on, if our communities are not characterized by sacrificial, difficult love, than everything else can go out the door, and will in time (1 Corinthians 13; Revelation 2:1-7).

Jesus came not to condemn, but to save sinners (John 3:17); God reconciled the world of sinners to himself in the death of his Son and commissions us to share that message of reconciliation, calling those who are his enemies into a new acceptance and friendship to him (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). We come to all as friends, offering along with our friendship, the very friendship of God. We do so as those befriended by God in exactly the same way.

Amen.

7 comments:

Lukas McKnight said...

Good post.

I think, again, of how it has been emphasized in the past 20 years that Christianity is such a "personal" faith which requires "personal" relationship with Jesus and does not require works to belong. It seems to me that Jesus was all about works, and creating relationships with others was at the top of his works. Friendship and loving others...

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks Lukas.

I think relationship and out of that friendship vertical and horizontal, is at the heart of what the gospel is all about. And I like the way you put it with reference to works.

Ted

Ted Gossard said...

Of course I know you know that already.

Ted

Susan said...

Ted,
I just posted about something that I think is related to our level of developing real friendships: our ability to really talk to one another on a deep level. This can be throught the spoken or the written word, but must be through discussions of substance and significance. While I'm sure Jesus started out discussions with some "small talk" (story of the woman at the well, for instance) He was about the kind of conversations that were unforgettable, and I firmly believe it is that kind of conversation that builds the strongest bonds between human beings. I like what Lukas says here about works... and friendship is definitly not just a work - but it is work!

Ted Gossard said...

Susan, thanks so much for your good input (as always) here. I look forward to reading your posting when I have more time.

It is certainly true that it is hard to get an indepth relationship. A good and hard work.

Rusty Peterman said...

Ted,

A community-shaping thought:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." - Jesus

Like you've said: "...Jesus was showing a new way. A holiness that touched the unclean, and rather than becoming unclean itself, made the unclean clean."

Jesus didn't just talk a "good game," did he?

Thank you, Ted.

Thank you, Jesus. Help me to be a friend within the community of your friends.

Ted Gossard said...

Rusty,

Amen.

Ted