Let’s Talk Friendship!

By Reverend J. Loren Russell

John 15:12-16 (NKJV)
“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.”

What does it mean to be a friend? Is a friend someone who you can hang out with, share good times, laugh, travel, who consoles you when you’re going through difficult situations and circumstances? Is a friend someone whom you love?

A friend fulfills all the above and then some. A friend goes the extra mile if it’s necessary. They will do whatever they can to help in any way they can. Jesus, while talking with His Disciples, said that it is love that drives friendships. It is so essential to friendship that Jesus commanded that they love one another. For out of that love for one another, they would be empowered to lay down their lives for their friend. He didn’t give the command as an authoritarian. He could have very easily said, “do as I say!” But Jesus would eventually personify the friendship He encouraged in His statement, “greater love has not one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend.” Not long after making this statement, He would sacrifice His life on the cross at Calvary…, for His friends!

Jesus told them that they are…, not would be or could be, but are His friends if they kept His commandment. When He says “are” my friends, He is stating it as a present reality and a constant existence. From that moment on, He would never refer to them as servants, but as friends and shares with them the very heart of God the Father.

This friendship was graciously extended to them. The Disciples did not choose Jesus to be His friend, Jesus chose the Disciples to be His friend. Very exemplary for His Disciples and for us; friendship is given, not demanded. Jesus gave His life for His friends. What could we give for those we call friends?

Friends could give money, time, resources, and services. They could give love. Friends can give bone marrow, blood, and organ donations, gifts that have become known as gifts of life. These gifts can sustain the life of someone who otherwise would not survive. Modern technology has created the ability for one friend to make a life-sustaining donation to another while both are alive. But there are some gifts that can only be made after death. This could very well be a part of the “go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” Jesus was referring to in the text. The gift of friendship does not have to stop because a friend dies. In fact, Jesus defeated death, so we are no longer bound by its finality. The gift of friendship can, and dare I say should, give, even after physical death.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at Goodwill Baptist Church and is the spiritual leader of both LaGree Baptist Church and the Evangelical Church of God, all in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting (718-328-8096/jlorenr@msn.com), and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Monday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook Live. Be sure to Friend “Matters of Faith” on YouTube and email us at mattersoffaith.mof@gmail.com. Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The eBook at www.smash words.com/books/view/993177.

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