Acts 15.22-31; Psalm 56; John 15.12-17
“I call you friends” Jesus says to the twelve, and like other words of the Master to his disciples they are words we may hope to hear ourselves.
In a half dozen completely diverse places in the Old Testament Abraham is named as “the friend of God.” Abraham for us is the father of faith [Romans 4.16] and friendship is an excellent metaphor for faith. The things that mark the best friendship—intimacy, fidelity, mutuality and joy—are equally descriptors for the relationship we may hope to have with God himself. He is not our friend because we have chosen him: no, he has chosen us. As the 20th Century American novelist Reynolds Price put it in his succinct summary of the Gospel according to St John, “The Maker of all things loves me, and wants me.”
“A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” Jesus declares. He has laid down his life—no one took it from him, he laid it down [John 10.17-18]—for the sake of you and me. He has taken that life up again and now sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for us. [Romans 8.34] And if we have known ourselves to be loved by him and made his friends, we are then empowered to share that love with all others for his sake.