Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Intentional friends

I have just returned from a trip back to the USA to participate in a memorial service for a dear friend named Terri Davis.
Terri left our presence and entered the presence of God after a four year battle with cancer. Terri was a testimony of grace and faith to all who knew and loved her. Her husband Larry and her two sons, Jared and Justin,celebrated her life with the hundreds who came to her memorial service. Terri was a woman who learned to abide and as a result her life was filled with friends.

A part of the abiding life is having a friendship with Jesus.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 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, fo everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:12-15

I have struggled with this passage over the years. The part about needing to obey His commands in order to be His friends was not clear to me. I reacted to this idea with a sense that this was not what friendship should be. As usual, I was not seeing clearly and Jesus has patiently waited for the time when He could open my eyes.

Friendship in God's kingdom is based upon a kind of abundance we do not know on earth. Kingdom friendship is based on a total relaxation in the intentions of God. It is simply knowing that any command given from Jesus is flowing from such a pure source so it can be obeyed with joy and with no reservations.

The key to friendships is the blending of intentions. For instance, two people who love fishing will find it easy to connect whenever they are planning to fish or actually fishing. When two people who love fishing are getting to fish together, one can "command" the other without any offense because fish are being caught.

This is why Jesus told His disciples everything He had learned from the Father. Until they could relax in the good intentions of the Father like Jesus did, no true friendship would occur. Abiding in the Father's love like Jesus did requires a kind of abandoning ourselves into the good intentions of God. As author Henry Scougal once observed "To love is to wander out of ourselves" We do this "wandering" only if we trust the intentions of another.

People who have few friends have not connected with others at the level of their intentions. People who have no friends probably have very deep doubts about the intentions of other people. They may have reason to doubt others, but they have no reason to doubt the intentions of Jesus. Starting a friendship with Jesus will give them friends unless they doubt even Jesus' intentions.

People who have trouble obeying Jesus are still on the fringes of God's intentions. Until they learn to relax and rest in God's good intentions they will struggle when they read the sermon on the mount or any of Jesus' other commands.

As I visited with friends while in the States I realized that it is the intentions of Jesus that I share in common with my closest friends. We are able to sustain and enjoy our friendship because we are all relaxing more and more in the intentions of Jesus. As we do, we relax with each other and our friendships become easier and easier to sustain.

The intentions of God as revealed in the life of Jesus are clear proof that we can rest and relax in the Vine--Jesus.
If a command comes from Him we can obey with a smile since we are such good friends. How could we not do what He says for us to do since His intentions are flowing from the source of all good intentions?

Look for people who trust God's intentions in Jesus and you will find Kingdom friends. They are the kind of friends whose intentions you can trust. When intentions begin in God, you can feel free to "wander" into any relationship.

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