As I have aged, it becomes more and more apparent to me that time is the one commodity that I can’t change. I can, however, make decisions about accepting more work, or not, as I weigh the risk/reward of working as opposed to having more free time.
And the further I get from the intensity of the corporate world, the more I appreciate the friendships I have developed throughout the years. Even though I have met folks in the business world who have ultimately become friends, it is not the business relationships that I remember – it is the friendships and the things that we have been through together.
Each Monday morning, I look forward to a weekly Zoom call that I have with two dear ministry partners. We have known each other and stayed together for more than twenty years – and each Monday we find things to talk about as we invest in one another and go through life together. And there is one of our board members for our ministry work that I have known almost 30 years. I was best man at his wedding, have prayed for him on the golf course and have called him my friend for most of those years. Friendships like these don’t just happen – they take work and attention to keep them as good as they can be. And my cousin here in the Indy area – we are an unlikely pairing, yet we pray for one another, have lunch together, have done ministry together and have the family bond in addition to everything else that binds us to one another.
As I have slowed down from my intense business career, I have reconnected with people who I never really thought would still be in my life after my corporate career ended. Yet these periodic cups of coffee and discussions of our shared ministry experiences continues to surprise me.
Throughout our life together, Janet has always been the one who has had many friendships. I, by contrast, spent most of my time working – trying to earn a living – and friendships weren’t that important to me in that season of my life. But now, I find myself looking forward for chances to reacquaint myself with folks who have shared some aspect of their life with me throughout the last four decades. Friendships seem to, each year, become more and more important to me – and I suspect that is how God designed it.
Tonight’s verse comes from the apostle John as he writes in the Gospel bearing his name. John quotes the words of Jesus as He speaks to His disciples. The point of the exchange is that Jesus is drawing his apostles closer to Him as He explains how He feels about them. We are told, in John 15:15-17, “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. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”
Of course, the command to love one another is one of the most important things that Jesus teaches us. But I also realize that Jesus doesn’t just want to be our Master, or our God, our mentor, or some person that we pray to – He wants to also be our friend. And that means that we can be authentic with Jesus – baring our souls as we would with our best earthly friends – those people who share our deepest sorrows and our greatest joys. The ones who are so connected to you that it seems that they share your DNA – when you suffer, they suffer – when you rejoice, they rejoice… How can it get any better than that!
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants to be included in the list of people that you consider to be friends – and that is amazing. My prayer is that we will all invest in our friendship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Himself. And if you want to know how to do that, just think about your earthly friends and know that the Lord of the universe loves you even more than the other friends that you enjoy… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…