Christ, Our Friend
The joys of Christ's friendship.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” –John 15:15
If you live in any city long enough you’ll begin to notice that every few years, a handful of the people you’ve befriended will leave. Whether it’s because they’ve decided to pursue an education elsewhere, they’ve gotten married and want to raise a family outside of the city, or they feel they’ve achieved all they wanted there, friends leave.
This is a normal part of life, but it still brings with it a sense of loss. Having to begin again and develop trust with new people can grow tiring—so much so that as the years go on, we sometimes find ourselves retreating from community. Instead of pursuing relationships, we go to work everyday, do what’s expected of us and then simply go home.
But is this how God calls us to live?
In the book of Genesis, we’re introduced to the Trinity—God in three persons—when Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Before he formed the world, our God was a relational God.
Throughout the Old Testament, God furthers his emphasis on relationships as he seeks intimacy with the people he made in his image. In Exodus 25:8, God takes it one step further when he calls for a tabernacle to be built so that “I will dwell among them.”
As his people continue to reject and devalue him, God then does something very countercultural to our human nature. God steps forward seeking even more intimacy with his people and offers his only son, Christ, to dwell among us.
In Christ we see God face-to-face. He is truly human and truly God. The Christmas hymn “O Holy Night” describes Christ’s birth as a radical moment when “the soul felt its worth.” When Christ enters the earth, our intimacy with God takes on a new life as revealed to us for the first time. His presence is something tangible that can be felt and seen.
But in John 15, Christ is preparing his disciples for his own departure. As he prepares them for what life will be like without his physical presence, he takes care to call them his friends—a term of deep endearment that carries with it a level of trust and intimacy.
Perhaps most importantly, Christ defines them as friends not simply because of a sweet affection he has for them, but because of what he’s revealed to them when he says, “I have called you friends for everything I have learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”
Christ’s example demonstrates how God never retreats from intimacy with us and looks at us not just with emotional love but also respect and value. He calls us not just to dwell in his love, but also to carry on his mission.
The lyrics of the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” were adapted from a poem written by Joseph Scriven. Born in Ireland, Scriven suffered through the tragic and untimely deaths of two women he loved. He eventually traveled to Port Hope, Canada where he found himself living among the impoverished but still serving others.
Scriven wrote these words to comfort his mother back in Ireland when he heard the news she had been ill:
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.”
As friends of Christ, we are comforted by him in our darkest times. He gives us strength to develop relationships even when we feel weak and weary. He equips us to carry his gospel to the ends of the earth.
As Scriven reminds us, in our moments of weakness when we forget these truths, we must bring everything to God in prayer—allowing Christ to shoulder our burdens for us.
Dominique McKay is a Women's Ministry Associate in Washington, D.C.