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Some say we are meant to live a life of selfless sacrifice as disciples of Christ, just like Jesus did.  Others say we are meant to live a life of continuous thanksgiving for what Jesus did, but the truth is we are given life by Jesus so that we may live it in continuous sacrificial thanksgiving.  There is no separation from sacrifice and thanksgiving in the life of the Lord.

The basic teachings and doctrines of Life and about Life should be self evident to each and every elect by now.  We have received from Him life and life abundantly with the forgiveness of our sins and His words, which are life.  Through His revelation to us of His Father, we have also received eternal life so that we have begun to come to know the One and only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.  The abundance of life we have received lays not in the quantity or longevity of our life, nor the quality, but rather in the privilege of that life.  Pagans everywhere run after longevity of life as well as quality of life.   To live a long life and to live well is every man’s ambition.  But the truth for you and me is not that we can live long or live well because we are His disciples, but rather, it is in the appreciation of the privilege of our life that is our true abundance.

A privilege not measurable by worldly riches or fame and renown, but a privilege that is measured in the gravity and responsibility of the knowledge that has now been made known to us, shared with us and given to us in the hope that we might be His friends.  He said, “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.”

What a privilege He extended to the eleven, and not only the eleven, but to all who believe in their message, that He has made us His friends by making known to us everything He has learnt from His Father.  It is not that we made Him our Friend that He has made everything He has learnt known to us, so that it is not as if we bribed Him with our friendship.  No, the friendship exists because He made us His friends by His choice, for He said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you…”  He could have called us His friends and not make everything He has learnt from the Father known to us.  That is, He could have made us His friends as we make friends, setting in place boundaries where we say thus far and no further, keeping from each other secrets, and more than secrets, the keeping from each other the greatest of wisdom that we have learnt and inherited from our own fathers.

He could have saved us.  He could have called us and appointed us to ministries to serve Him, even as lords and kings and apostles and prophets.  He could have employed us and given us work, but even as He adopted us to be His brothers and sisters, He could have kept from us the everything that He has learnt from His Father.  He could have taught us some things and given us enough to go on, and He certainly need not have taught us the everything that He has learnt.

As such, the quantity and quality of life we can receive as victims of His grace and salvation, as servants of His choice and even as children of His will, is nothing compared to the privilege of our lives as His friends.  The friendship that we have been given is not friendship as humans offer one another.  And it goes without saying that those you save may never become your friends.  Your servants may never become your friends and even your own brothers and sisters may never be your friends, not friends as the Lord is a Friend to those He has made friends.  People can be friendly to one another— smile, greet each other cordially, even have time together over a meal, coffee and perhaps even share leisure times together, but the friendship of the Lord is not based on a cordial, kind greeting, nor a meal shared together or an interest shared together.  There are those whom He greets as “friends,” and those whom He calls friends.  For the Lord greeted Judas as He was about to be betrayed, saying, “Friend, do what you came for.”  But He never made known to Judas everything He had learnt from the Father.  You know it was not until Judas left that He then began to teach the eleven what He said in John 14, 15, 16 and 17.

The proof of His friendship to us is the everything that He has learnt from the Father that He has made known to us through His life and through the Spirit of Truth He has sent, who is to guide us into all truth and remind us of everything He said and teach us about them, and making known to us everything that belongs to Jesus.  The sending of His Holy Spirit to us is not only so that we might not be left as orphans and that we might have a Counsellor and have power to be His witnesses, but it is the token of His friendship, no, not token, but the very definition of His friendship.  Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit is the deposit guaranteeing what is to come, true, but more than a deposit, He is the very proof of Jesus’ friendship to those whom He calls friends, for it is through the Holy Spirit that which He promised can be manifested.  It is the Holy Spirit who knows and can make known to all His friends everything Jesus has learnt from the Father, even when Jesus is no longer available to be with them, because He is at the right hand of God busy interceding for them.

So to begin to speak of the application of life in a way worthy of what He has given us, it is not then about the application of your life as a sinner saved by grace, or a servant chosen to serve, or a son or daughter adopted by His will, but it must be about your application of your life as His friend to whom He has made known everything He has learnt from His Father, if only you had been listening.

Where once to listen was a command and a duty, now, to listen is a privilege, the privilege of friends.  It is when you see that to listen to Him is beyond being a command and duty, but the greatest privilege of your life that friendship with Him begins.  Yes, to those who are His disciples, they must listen as a command; to those who are His brothers and sisters, they must listen as a duty.  But for disciples and brothers who are His friends, the listening is a privilege, and being a privilege it is never burdensome or dull, but delightfully pleasurable.

The understanding then of what He defines to be friendship allows the proper fulfilment of the new commandment:  “Love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  For it is then that He goes on to define why they are His friends, saying, You are My friends if you do what I command.  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.”

His definition of His friendship, the ‘everything’ He has made known to us that He learned from His Father, and our proof of the acceptance of His friendship is that we love one another as He loved us, laying down our lives for one another.  It is then not just dying for one another, but rather, laying down the privileges of our life for each other that is also required, and if we are truly His holy friends, then only His friends are our friends.  Certainly, though we are permitted to have friends that are not His friends, the very privilege of being His friend demands rightly that we have no friends who are not His friends first.  Thus, the life eternal, immortal and abundant that He has given to all who believe in Him, reaches its highest application not as a son or daughter in the fullness of His Stature, but rather as a friend of His who lays down his or her life for other friends of His.  And in so committing yourself, to be such a friend to Him, then the rest of the commands are no burden and the yoke is never heavy, for the yoke you now wear is the yoke of friendship, not of kinship, nor servanthood or as an indebted victim of His grace.

In making everything that He has learned from His Father known to you, then He has established with you a friendship that has no secrets, no boundaries, and no limits, and it is a friendship that demands from you the highest respect and trustworthiness.

And it is evident that this friendship He extends, He extends it to disciples who are His brothers and sisters, for again He said, “Everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you…  Then My Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name.  He wants above all else His friends to be His brothers and sisters, so that the family relationships and kinship are not held together by commonness of parents and of duty, but of friends who are closer than brothers and sisters, and brothers and sisters who are the best of friends because of what they all know of their Father.

So then, friendship with one another is not based on the likes and dislikes of each other’s personalities or compatibilities.  It is not based on politeness, or of socially cordial and pleasant deeds.  It is not a hearty greeting or a well rehearsed smile.  In fact, it has nothing to do with what the world defines as friendship or being friendly, but it is about sharing with one another all that you have learnt from the Father.

It is not about sharing with one another what you have learnt from the Lord by the listening to and the practice of His word.  It is not even about sharing with one another what you have learnt from the Father through what the Lord has made known to you.  It is all of that, and even more.  The more lies in the willingness of each of you to so follow the Lord and to be His friend that indeed, it is no longer the Lord showing you what He has learnt from the Father, but the Father Himself showing you what He has shown the Lord, and showing you even the greater things so that you have something of your own from the Father that you can make known to the other disciples.

Thus, the gauge, the measure, of how much you love one another or how friendly you are to each other is not in what you are prepared to sacrifice of yourself for each other or how socially cordial and correct you are with each other, but rather, how much you are prepared to secrete yourself into the aloneness with the Father to learn something from Him directly, so that, just like Jesus, you can make known to those who are your fellow disciples and brothers and sisters everything that you have learned from your Father. The measure of your friendship then to one another as elect of the Holy Spirit is not the superficiality so dearly prized by the church, but by the depth of the knowledge you have learned from your Father, which you are prepared to freely give to one another.

The way it is delivered is not as important as what is delivered.  If you still harbour the superficialities of the coverings of men and their legalities, their fears, which are represented by the use of the fig leaf by Adam and Eve, then the way it is delivered will still matter to you, and if it does, then the appreciation of what is delivered can be denied.  However, in learning to be like your Father, the Father of your spirit, you will and must come to the place where the presentation matters little, but the content is all that counts. That is why God does not look on the outside but at the heart. Phylacteries and grand architecture do not impress Him, fine speeches and long public prayers He detests, but to do things in secret that are of His nature, these He loves.

As the Lord said to the twelve after He washed their feet, “Do you understand what I have done for you?  You call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  But see that who we call ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ calls us His friends, and He defines the basis of that friendship by making known to us everything… everything He has ever learnt from His Father.

If then the servants and disciples are to serve one another as He washed their feet, how then should His friends serve one another?  How then can one define this highest of all love when the Lord Himself has said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

He who came to give us life and life abundantly, eternally, cannot be speaking about death to those to whom He also said, “and anyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”  Thus, the laying down of your life for another friend of Jesus is not about physical death or martyrdom only, even pagans and heathens can do that for their gods and fellow disciples.  No, it must be something more that is uniquely only possible to those whom He calls, “My friends.”

That unique something is the willingness of each and everyone to use their own lives to struggle, to wrestle, to work, to pray, to do whatever it takes to come to that place where they learn something from the Father themselves and having learnt it, make it known to one another.  The uniqueness of the gift then must be reciprocated by the response, a response that recognises the value of the friendship in what is being made known rather than the superficiality of the external packaging.

For the Lord did not come to us with natural beauty that we should be drawn to Him, that is, not of a natural friendliness or disposition that would make you say, “I want to be His friend.”  Being a Man familiar with sorrow and suffering would have meant that His face was not one of an ever ready smile, or an extended hand of friendship, or a hug, or a pleasant greeting, but rather, you would have beheld a serious face, even a withdrawn face, whose every word and expression is devoid of all superficiality.  If He did speak, it was not with the greetings we use, but of a seriousness that we might find off-putting.  Neither then are His apostles; for a person who walks as a man condemned to the arena is not one who can wear a ready smile and extended arms to all and sundry, but one who walks with the weight of the privilege and responsibilities upon him to seek out and make known to his friends, the friends of his Friend, everything that the Father has to teach him.

And in truth, the effort exerted to gain the treasure can be so great that it makes it humanly impossible to deliver it in a genteel and socially pleasant way, so that those whose skin is still soft and tender, that is, their feelings and sensitivities, will find them offensive.  But as the elect of the Holy Spirit, you must now come to respect the privileged life you have with each other and respect the friendship your fellow elect has with your Friend.  So that your mutual friendship and affection for each other is never based on the cordiality of your greetings, the pleasantries of your socialisation, but upon the depth of the revelations of what has been learnt from the Father that is shared.  Not for the pleasant greetings of smiles, but for the crescendo of power and knowledge each displays to share with one another, whether in works or word, knowing and understanding that the very strain of reaching for the deepest of the deep can prevent the other from being socially graceful.

No, the application of our life together is in the appreciation of the privilege of being able to stand among the friends of His friendship, and your friendship to each other is measured in how much you have learnt from the Father yourself that you are sharing with each other.


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