Hubert Humphrey said, "The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love." There is something "enveloping" about the tender hugs of a companion in the journey, one who will not only come alongside, but will bear you up during times when you just feel you cannot go on any longer. Over the years, I have been observant of those who seem to live "rich lives". They aren't those who drive the fanciest of cars, dress the snappiest, or even are surrounded by the most "friends" at the party. In fact, they are often those who have learned to live well as "friends" themselves, drawing those who are loyal, trustworthy, and there for the long-haul into their lives not by their overwhelming charisma, but by their faithful example.
There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends. You celebrate our friendship if you obey this command. I don’t call you servants any longer; servants don’t know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends. (John 15:13-15 VOICE)
I call you friends - four words with the greatest of potential and a magnitude of blessing far outside of my limited ability to describe. Jesus was speaking with those who were then and were to become his followers - disciples in this journey. To them he proclaims four things:
"I" - It isn't just anyone who makes this claim. It is the Son of God, the one who sits at the right hand of the Eternal. He is the one who makes this proclamation. The all-becoming, all-knowing, all-powerful one proclaims, "I" call you my friends.
"Call" - The "I am" declares - indeed, he "makes it known" - we are his friends. Not only is it to be known to us, but by evidence he leaves all over our lives by being a part of our lives, it becomes apparent we are his!
"You" - He directs his words clearly to those who are willing to follow - to do more than merely "associate with" him, but those who make the active choice to be with him no matter what comes.
"Friends" - Not acquaintances, not comrades, not colleagues, nor are we sidekicks. We are the closest of "friends" - a person attached to another because there is a bond of love.
Jesus is about to reveal the greatest evidence of this bond - the giving of his life for those he loves. His example declares the depth of his commitment and the breadth of his encompassing love. We are to celebrate his friendship - to give evidence of this bond relationship - through the giving of ourselves to the things he revealed as important in his time on this earth. The binding up of wounds too deep to heal without the care of another. The encouragement of words and actions that lift the spirit of one weighted down by the discouragements of a lifetime of wrong choices. There is no greater love - no greater evidence of his grace in action - than to love with the heart of Jesus.
In essence, Jesus is saying, "There is no greater bond..." We can form bonds with many things and many people. Those bonds can be both trustworthy and a little flimsy - depending on the type of bond which is formed. I have "glued" things to other things, such as a bead on top of a bottle so mom can easily identify it as the one she wants when she is in pain. Depending upon the glue I use, the wear and tear that bead receives each time that bottle is accessed, and the "bond" which formed when the glue was setting, that bead may last a long time right where it was attached, or come off in a moment of "pressure" too strong for that attachment. God is calling each of us to be the type of friends with bonds too strong to detach, even when the pressures build! Just sayin!