One of the many ways that people view Jesus is as friend. We sing hymns such as “What a friend we have in Jesus,” “In the garden,” and “Just a closer walk with Thee” where we express our desire to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. The songs express the yearning for time to walk with Jesus, to talk with Jesus, and to share our thoughts and hopes with Jesus. This desire for a deep personal relationship is essential for many Christians.
It is also scriptural. For there are a number of times that Jesus expresses that his disciples, and by extension us, are his friends. Just last Sunday we read a passage from the Gospel of John where Jesus says:“You are my friends if you do what I command you. 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.”—John 15:14-15
A dear friend of mine, Br. Curtis Almquist of the Anglican monastic order The society of St. John the Evangelist, recently wrote, “Jesus calls us ‘friend.’ One of the wonderful things about speaking to a trusted friend is the freedom not to be guarded, to let whatever you need to say just tumble off your lips. A trusted friend will understand you; a trusted friend will not necessarily take everything you say literally, but rather, they will take it truly. They know you. We can take Jesus at his word, that he listens to you as a beloved friend. When you pray, don’t worry that you get it right; get it real. Jesus will get it right.”
Like some of you I sometimes worry about getting it right when talking with Jesus. I worry about speaking beautifully with psalm-like metaphors and in Elizabethan English. But as with any good friend Jesus is more interested in hearing from us than in how well we speak. Trying to get it right becomes a barrier to communication. Talk with Jesus like you used to talk with a sibling or friend at night. Remember how you would turn out the lights and then start talking. You could not see each other, but you could hear each other. Somehow the darkness made it safer or easier to talk frankly. Those conversations were always so good. Imagine Jesus in the other bunk and just talk. Allow for silence that you might hear what he has to say to you. His response may not be clear in the moment, but it will be in time.
Jesus calls you friend. Accept the invitation and live into it. We can have no better friend than him.