I have struggled with the image of Jesus as “friend.” The heady conversations I have had with people concerning this term deemed it below that which a most Holy God would expect from his worshippers. Yet I consider a hymn like “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” to be incredibly reverent. “What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend, for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?…Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for thee.” So in this context “friend” seems perfectly appropriate. What is it, then, that gives me this knee jerk reaction against referring to our Savior this way? The answer came, obviously enough, through a collision of culture and the words of Jesus according to John.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you, 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.” – Jesus (John 15:12-15)
We have lost this ideal of friendship. The way we use words is so important…and can anyone think of the most common way “friend” is used today? (pause to consider) Many of you may have come to the same conclusion as I have – go to Facebook and press a few buttons: Friend Requests, Find Friends, 30 Mutual Friends, See What Your Friends are up to Right Now, Close Friends, Friends on Chat…the list goes on. Beyond this we hear phrases like “friends with benefits” pumping through the media or people who use the word sarcastically in place of an expletive: “Thanks for cutting me off, f#r@i*e%n#d!” What kind of usage is that? Are these examples of mutual submission?
I’ve realized that, based upon the Jesus ideal, I make a pretty terrible friend. Love, submission, and awareness are not the first words that come to mind when I think of my role in my friendships. Yet Jesus is the perfect example of someone who lives out what true friendship means. After some reflection on Jesus’ example, I was resinging the last verse of “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” and the song “I love you, I need you, though my world may fall I’ll never let You go. My Savior, my closest friend, I will worship you until the very end” flooded into my heart and mind.
He is not my closest friend by anything that I could have done to impress him, yet he has chosen to be my closest friend on his part. His actions and character make him the one most suited to be my closest friend. We need him. And it is my prayer that even when my world falls that I will never let him go. If I do, I have given up the best friend that I could ever have.
For a preview of the music for Sunday, feel free to go to restorationmusic.wordpress.com.