"I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything…."
John 15:15, The Message
God brings His fulfillment into my life by calling me His friend.
"Fulfillment" - To contain everything that is essential. To bring to wholeness. To bring to completion.
When God tells me I am His friend, what qualities of friendship come to my mind?
"O taste and see that the Lord is good! Fortunate and to be envied is the (woman) who trusts in Him."
Psalm 34:8, Amplified Bible
I really don't like having to admit this but for many years I was a lousy friend. If you had some big catastrophe in your life, I'd be there for you - but for those daily thoughtful gestures - a caring phone call, a lunch together, a card to tell you I was thinking of you - I failed miserably.
Yet, I have, in retrospect, realized that one of the greatest blessings of my life has been my friends. So several years ago I decided I would begin to put more time and effort into being a better friend - and how my life has been revived by the infusion of love from people I have taken for granted. When I say I had to try harder I really mean it. Being a good friend doesn't happen by chance, however, the fulfillment which comes into our lives through friendship is so wonderful, it's worth all the effort in the world. I think Mary Mitford in 1870 said it best: "Friendship is the bread of the heart."
This may be why God asked us to "taste and see" what His friendship is like. For He knows that His friendship will nourish our souls just as bread nourishes our bodies.
In the book of Zephaniah, only a small three chapter book hidden among the minor prophets in the Old Testament, the prophet, a great grandson to King Hezekiah in Israel, while calling the wayward people back to God, also reminded them of the great blessing and joy that would be theirs in the company and friendship of their Heavenly Father. "God is present among you. He is there to protect you. He rejoices over you with joy. He won't mention or recall any of your past sins. He will be filled with an intense feeling of joy as He elevates your status (exalts you)" (Zephaniah 3:17, The Amplified Bible, The Message).
I must admit, I never thought I would find God's recipe for friendship in Zephaniah but here it is:
1) I am present with you. "I will not leave you as orphans, comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless. I will come back to you" (John 14:18, The Amplified Bible).
2) I will protect you. "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him" (Psalm 34:7, New International Version). "God's angel sets up a circle of protection around us" (Psalm 34:7, The Message).
3) I will rejoice in you. "The Lord rejoices in His works" (Psalm 104:31, New International Version).
4) I will not hold anything against you. I won't remember your past failings. "He will again have compassion on us. He will tread under our ‘failings.' You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19, The Amplified Bible).
5) I will be thrilled at your success. "Your God rejoices over you" (Isaiah 62:5, The Amplified).
Not only is this a perfect recipe for the fulfillment I have in God's friendship with me, it is also a beautiful blueprint for the kind of friend I can be. I am present when my friends need me. I will loyally protect my friends. I will rejoice with them. I will not hold their faults against them. And I will be thrilled at their success.
These words written many years ago by Aelred of Rievaulx in "Spiritual Friendship" perfectly describe the fulfillment you and I will receive from our friendship with God. "Friendship, therefore, is that virtue by which we are bound by ties of love and sweetness and out of many are made one."
"A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts you and gently invites you to grow. Such a friend is God."
"I don't call you a slave … I call you my friend because I reveal to you all I know."
John 15:15, The Amplified Bible
"There is no friendship where there is no freedom."
"Notice the distinction Jesus drew between being a servant and being a friend. It's not the privilege of the servant to understand his master's business. It's just for (the servant) to do what he's told. No questions. No reasons … To make it plain that he did not want such blind obedience, Jesus reminded the disciples that he had told them all he could about (God). This would make it possible for them to give him what he really wanted - the free cooperation of understanding friends … God longs for trusting and trusted friends."
Dr. Graham Maxwell
Servants or Friends
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00.
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