Be A Friend

Easter 6B – Be A Friend

May 12-13, 2012

John 15:9-17

Jesus says, “I do not call you servants any longer…

but I have called you friends.”

Our text invites us today to consider what it means to be

friends with Jesus –

BFF’s with Jesus.

I was with our K-5th grade youth groups this week

and asked them to think about what makes a good friend…

Here’s what they said:

“A friend just has lots of love.”

“A friend is nice to you.”

“A friend doesn’t bully you.”

“A friend respects you.”

“A friend builds you up.”

“A friend asks you what’s wrong.”

“A friend reminds you when you forget something.”

Great answers!

When Jesus calls us friends,

it makes a huge difference in our relationship, doesn’t it?

There’s a level of intimacy in friendship that is not there

when we think of Jesus primarily as  teacher and we as his students;

when we think of him as our Healer and ourselves as his patients;

when we think of him as our Savior and ourselves as sinners;

or when we think of him as our Shepherd and ourselves as his sheep.

When Jesus claims us as friends,

we  aren’t just the students, the patients, the sinners, or the sheep any longer.

There’s a new mutuality between us.

And that relationship creates new responsibility for us as well.

Because we know that friendship is mutual.

When Jesus claims us as friends,

as the youth reminded us, friends have “lots of love” for each other –

Jesus has love for us and we have love for Jesus which means we have love  for others.

When Jesus claims us as friends, we are reminded by the youth that

friends respect each other –

Jesus respects us for who we are – and we respect him which means we respect others.

When Jesus claims us as friends we are reminded that

friends build each other up –

Jesus builds us up – and let’s think about this for a moment – how do we build him up in our day-to-day lives?

When Jesus claims us as friends, we are reminded by the youth that

friends ask you what’s wrong –

Sure we come to Jesus in prayer telling him what’s wrong with us – but when was the last time we went in prayer solely to ask him to share with us where he is weeping over our world?

Friendship is mutual.  It’s reciprocal.

Friendship comes with responsibility on both sides.

And then Jesus spells out the greatest responsibility of friendship,

“no one has greater love than this,

to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Somehow that verse didn’t get into the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

It’s a beautiful hymn – one of my favorites.

We’ll be singing it later this morning during Holy Communion.

But as you sing the words,

think about how one-sided they are.

They talk about how Jesus is friends with us –

but precious little about our part of the relationship –  how we are friends with him.

There’s nothing about laying down our lives for his sake.

The first verse is,

“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry ev’rything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit;

oh what needless pain we bear—

all because we do not carry ev’rything to God in prayer!

As someone after last night’s service said,

maybe we like that hymn so much because it doesn’t ask much of us.

We all like having friends – and especially having a friend like Jesus –

but we like having friends more than we like being friends with others.

When Jesus calls us friends,

he’s not just giving us sweet words of comfort,

he’s not just calling us to have a good friend in him,

but he’s also calling us to be a good friend with him.

Friends of Jesus are friends with  all those people  he’s called friends.

Friendship is what got Jesus in trouble after all!

He didn’t get in trouble because he was too good of a teacher;

He didn’t get into trouble because he was too good of a healer;

He didn’t even get into trouble because he was too good of a savior!

Jesus got into trouble because he was too good of a friend!

He wasn’t discriminating enough!

He was friends with people who ate and drank too much!

He was friends with people who should have been in jail!

He was friends with people who were themselves the bullies, the illegals, the people of questionable morality, the people that our mothers and fathers told us to stay away from!

When Jesus calls us friends,

he’s asking us to be friends with the people he was friends with.

This little booklet you’ll receive this morning called “Faith in Action,”

is really a book of friendship.

It tells about how support for our national church, the ELCA, allows us to be friends with people throughout our world –

in Maricopa, Arizona where we are friends with a new mission church in a Hispanic community;

in Cuernevaca, Mexico when we are friends with Kat Heavner, an ELCA young adult spending a year as a missionary working with children and seniors

in Liberia, where Leymah Gbowee,  who in 2005 was supported in college by an ELCA International Leadership Development scholarship, won a Nobel prize for her efforts to help end Liberia’s civil war – we are friends with a Nobel Prize winner!

 

Friendship with Jesus

asks for a response from us.

It asks us to bear fruit.

There’s a story you’ve probably heard from one of the first “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books.

I tell it because it describes the difference between having a friend,

and being a friend.

It seems that there was a guy named Paul who received a car from his brother as a gift one Christmas.

Paul came out of his office on Christmas Eve,

and there he saw a young boy from the neighborhood admiring it.

“Is this your car, Mister?” he asked.

Paul nodded. “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.”

The boy was astounded.  “You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn’t cost you nothing?

Boy I wish…..”  He hesitated.

Of course Paul knew what the boy was going to wish for.

He was going to wish that he had a brother like that.

But what the boy said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.

“I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that.”[i]

We all have a friend in Jesus.

Our text calls us to be a friend like Jesus.

With apologies to the hymn text writer Joseph Scriven, consider this new verse:

What a friend we are in Jesus, all their sins and griefs we bear,

What a privilege to carry others’ needs to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we gladly forfeit; Oh, what suffering we share —

All because we choose to carry, others’ needs to God in prayer.

Amen.

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