Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Jesus, love and friendship

1“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (NRSV)

Last post I looked at the idea that we are friends of Jesus, not simply his slaves or servants, and that this should shape how we view everything about our "relationship with God". This is not an overly sentimentalised view, nor entirely egalitarian, yet nonetheless intimate. We are the ones possessing knowledge of the purposes of God.

The practical outworking of this is that friendship of Jesus means that friendship with others is our goal. Not just the casual, entertainment or shared interest types of friendships (not that they are bad things in of themselves), but deep friendships. Here, Jesus weaves friendship (philous), i.e. those with whom we share brotherly love (philia) and agape, that love God shows and we are to share.

We are to have agape for each other just as Jesus had agape for them, in his time with them and in dying for them on the cross - and hence by extention to those whom Jesus has also died for (theology warning: issues about election here!). 

And how do people identify those who belong to Jesus (as opposed to how one becomes one who belongs to Jesus); you love each other as friends. Agape is expressed in the context of philia (so probably making too big a distinction between these words isn't helpful).

At the very least, Christians should have some deep friendships with other Christians. Love is shown to all to be sure, but just as the 12 had each other, it is helpful to have close Christian friendships, not just as a means to greater holiness of character, but as an end in itself, a reflection of Christ's love, and indeed the inner life of the trinity.

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