Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jesus isn't my friend?

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant 
does not know what his master is doing; 
but I have called you friends, for all that have 
heard from my Father I have made known to you.
- John 15:15

I had missed out on the opportunity to attend a large pastor's conference. Though bummed, I was thrilled to learn that the video for the conference had been posted for free online. Clearing some time from my schedule, I sat down in front of the computer, loaded the video, and began to enjoy the messages.

The speakers were well known. The host church was well known. All in all, in was an 'all-star' line up of celebrity pastors (I mean that in a good way) from the conservative corner of Evangelicalism, honorable & faithful men of God.

One of these well-known pastors, a man I respect, began lamenting how Evangelical Christians of our day have a "low view of God". Gone, he believed, was the belief that God was the holy, sovereign King of creation. He bemoaned the fact that people stroll into church services wearing blue jeans and flip flops. He bewailed the modern custom of sipping coffee during the sermon. He downright deplored the so-called '7-11' style worship songs that mark some corners of contemporary worship.

While some of his overall points had an element of truth (and certainly many of his points were downright silly), one statement above all others caught my attention. He noted the contemporary emphasis on Jesus as our "friend". Pounding the pulpit thunderously (by the way, he bemoaned the absence of pulpits, too), he boldly declared: "we don't need a friend, we need a God! Brothers, Jesus isn't your friend, he is your King!"

The crowd, almost all pastors, erupted in thunderous applause, cheers, and Amens!

Think about that statement: "we don't need a friend."

"Jesus isn't your friend!"

I am not sure what stunned me more, the fact that he made such a theologically perverse statement or the fact that hundreds of pastors cheered in agreement.

Listen, I get it. I get why he was upset. I understand, and partially agree with, his concern over the current flippancy that we see in some corners of Christianity. But my highly esteemed 'celebrity pastor', in his attempt to crown Jesus as King, denied the very words of Jesus--and an extremely important aspect of the Gospel.

Let me be clear. Jesus IS your King. But he is also your friend. Friendship with us was important to Jesus. So important that he spoke emphatically to the disciples: "No longer do I call you servants...but I have called you friends." In Scripture, it was the Pharisees who criticized Jesus' friendship with people (Luke 7:34; Matt 11:19). Believers are called to embrace that friendship, not deny it.

As you go through your day today, remember that you relate to Jesus in many ways. He is your Savior, your Lord, and your King. But he also considers you a friend.

Are you his?

2 comments:

  1. I've heard this too. Thanks for the article

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  2. There isn't an either-or here, He can be both King and friend, Lord and servant. These are not contradictions. Like you I get the impulse to declare Christ as King but we need not do so at the expense of our greatest and truest friend.

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