• By Joseph A. Bias

You Are My Friends If…


“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:13-17

As modern day believers it’s not a popular approach to Biblical teaching to talk about conditions to be eligible for anything from God. It’s easy to apply conditions for unbelievers but for today’s Christian thinking God is perceived as a permissive grandfather or uncle who will give us anything we want just because He loves us so much. We tend to think of Him as overlooking most of our behavior or lack of it when it comes to not knowing and not keeping His Word. We have lost the edge that our predecessors in past generations had where sin was spelled with a capital “S” and regarded much more seriously than it is today.

Now God’s love for us has not and will never change. But, have we taken His commandments as seriously as we have accepted His love? Can you imagine what the church would look like and the effect we would be having on the world if everyone who claimed faith in Jesus Christ lived with a passionate commitment to keep His commandments, to do what He says?

The greater question is this. What would our lives look like and how much greater impact would we have on the world if we did whatever Jesus commands us? How much more pleasing would we be to God if our lives reflected the nature of Jesus more nearly?

The good news is this. We can keep His commandments. But we have to make a heart commitment to walk out our lives by faith motivated by love. Remember, Jesus said, all the commandments are summed up in these two. Love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves.

If we know, understand and do these two we will do them all.

Think about that and let the Holy Spirit instruct you in what you can do and how you can live to fulfill the commandments of God to the end that Jesus looks to you as His friend.

“And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is to have no other passion greater than your zeal for God. You can measure it.

What in life are you most passionate about? What do you talk about the most? What do you have the most knowledge of in the things you’ve studied to learn and become skillful in doing? When you talk with your friends socially what are the things uppermost in mind? What brings you the greatest pleasure in your life? Who do you live to please most? When faced with a decision of defending your faith, standing true to the Word of God or gaining the acceptance of your friends or those you want to impress to think of you as not being like “one of those fundamentalist fanatics?” If God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or The Word of God was your answer to those questions then you are in the right place, your heart is in the right place and your love of God is evident.

To love your neighbor as yourself would seem, on the surface of it, to be a simple proposition. But let’s examine it. Many have tried to make it complicated determining who our neighbor is, but the Word seems clear. Our neighbor is anyone living in community with us, anyone other than ourselves. It might be easier to say, who is not our neighbor? Those who are our enemies, and the enemies of God and of His Church are not our neighbors. Nevertheless, we are called to love them, yet not as we love ourselves.

How do we love ourselves? We are watchful to do what keeps us healthy as much as possible. We feed, clothe and provide shelter for ourselves. We don’t intentionally do harm to ourselves (if we have healthy minds). We are kind to ourselves. We encourage ourselves. We want to be successful. We make every effort to be at peace with ourselves. We are watchful to live in such a way that we preserve and protect our lives from negative attacks. We are generally quick to forgive ourselves and overlook our shortcomings and missteps. We treat ourselves with kindness and respect. To extend these same things to our neighbor is to love them.

We are friends with Jesus to the extent that we join Him in His passion, His ministry to the poor, His love of the Father, His ministry of healing, His ministry of grace, mercy and forgiveness and His ministry of love.

We can do this. The Holy Spirit is in us to help us, and the Father is working in us to insure that we do.


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