St. Aelred asserts that the first crucial point to understanding spiritual friendship begins with a friendship with Christ, because the purest, fullest expression of all that friendship can possibly be is founded upon a divine friendship with God. Therefore, the first core element of spiritual friendship begins with befriending the LORD.
Let’s take a look at our passage again, focusing on verses 12-15:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
“I no longer call you servants…. Instead, I have call you friends.” Jesus calls us his friends.
Whenever I think about being friends with Christ, this YouTube classic comes to mind:
Bouncy, heartfelt, and exquisitely cringe-worthy, this video proclaims the joy and fun-spirited nature of having a friendship with Christ, all in a supremely hoakey fashion. And it’s absolutely hysterical.
However, I sense that our response to this video parallels our response to its message. We joyfully laugh at the thought of being friends with Christ. We enjoy it, play with it as a pleasant idea—but then we move on without ever considering the implications of such a radical statement.
Viewing Jesus as “a friend of mine” seems more like a nice-sounding ideal than a legitimate description for relating with him.
We adore viewing Jesus as our God and Savior, who came to be with us, loves us infinitely, and saves us from eternal separation from him by re-uniting us back to God and unleashing us into an unfathomable relationship with him. We even specifically use the language that we have a “relationship” with Christ! That’s the beauty of Christianity – we have a relationship with God.
Yet for whatever reason, labeling that relationship as a friendship just doesn’t seem…. right.
Correct me if I’m wrong with this assumption, but the majority of Christians, at least in America, may be rather uncomfortable with the thought of being friends with Jesus. There’s a major tension here with this language—and for good reason, with all things considered. So to help us grapple with the thought of being friends with the Lord, we’re going to wrestle with some of the tensions we have with this language next week. When we overcome these tensions, we’ll realize that being friends with God isn’t a surface-level view of our relationship with him, but radically redefines what friendship can mean in the first place.