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 NIV)
When we become a friend of Christ, are we no longer a servant? Or, does friendship with Christ make us a more perfect servant?
Jesus calls his disciples friends, but they were still servants. A quick reading of this could lead us to conclude that a servant and a friend are two separate categories. Scripture must always be compared with other scripture before we can interpret it correctly. If there was ever anyone who was a friend of Christ, it was the Apostle Paul. Yet, at the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul says, “Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ,” not a friend of Christ. Adding friendship to service is determined by our motivation for serving. Service to Christ should never be just legal or compulsory in nature. We serve Christ because we want to, not because we have to, based on genuine affection. It is possible to serve Christ and not be his friend, but it is not possible to be his friend without a desire to serve him.
Context is essential for understanding the meaning of any verse of scripture. The previous verse (14), Jesus tells them that his friends do what he tells them to do, and what is that? To lay down their lives for their friends (13). Discipleship only happens through obedience, and without it, you will never be friends with God. Friends confide with each other, and God reserves his secret thoughts for his servant friends. It is not servant or friend, but servant and friend.
Are you and I friends with God? Only the Lord knows that. Friendship with God is like possessing humility, if you have it, you don’t recognize that you do.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing