Friday, 17 March 2017

What's In a Name?

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s 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, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.    John 15:13-15

Jesus called us 'friends'.  I wonder what that really means?

He talked about servants and masters, students and teachers, fathers and sons and daughters, but in the end, He called us, and calls us, His friends. 

Why?  I'm not sure and I haven't taken the time to study the original meaning of what He said.  
I have often wondered. 

It's something that started a few years ago when I was struggling with some relationships that just weren't 'working'.  I had put a lot of effort into these 'friendships' and nothing was improving.  It seemed pretty one-sided to me and there was confusion on both ends. 

I was incredibly frustrated - and hurt.

But God.     But God stepped in and showed me something about friendship and why these relationships weren't working for me, or for them, really.   

You see, a friend is your equal, someone you need in your life, and someone who needs you.   You share stuff and you minister to each other, as friends, not because one is superior, but because you take turns holding each other up - physically, in prayer, practically.

Ministry, well that's another thing entirely.   You see, the people I wanted to be friends with saw me as a ministry.  They felt sorry for me, they saw a need in  my life and they tried to meet it in their various giftedness.  But they didn't see me as a friend, as their equal, as someone they needed.   Sure, the word 'friend' was used, but it wasn't what it was.   They were my brothers and sisters in the church, but we weren't friends because they didn't need me, couldn't possibly see how they could.   It wasn't a two-way thing.   And I felt I wasn't good enough - perhaps that's not how they saw it.  And now, looking back, I can see that isn't and wasn't true, even if they thought so.   

But friend, that's different.   Very different - and  I have a few precious ones.  They don't look down and I'm not their newest ministry project or the way they get their value.  My friends struggle and groan and cry and I help support and pray and listen.  And they do the same for me when it's my turn.    They don't look down on me and I don't look down on them.  We're all doing the journey and we need friends - just friends.    

But just like a stay-at-home Mum is not just a Mum, but so much more, neither is a friend just a friend.  The blessing of having a friend who is just that - a friend - is truly something to savour. 

STOP - Linking up at Five Minute Friday, where we write for 5 minutes on a prompt word.  Today's prompt is 'friend'. 

One of the biggest lessons in this came when God rebuked me sharply about my relationship with someone I was trying to minister to.  I was ministering to her out of the same attitude that was causing me pain and offence when it was coming to me from others.  And those others were doing that very thing to her as well.   Well, God pulled me up big time, and I had to go and apologise.  But well before the apology, God changed my perspective and my attitude and the relationship with this amazing person - and to a lesser degree, with her hubby.  

I could see her, someone not much older than my oldest daughter, as inferior, as not knowing much, as having nothing to offer me, as someone who 'needed' my superior wisdom and 'grace' and correction.    That was the pervading attitude at the time from us older women in the church.   But, when God stepped in and showed me that I could and should relate to this person as an equal, and when I chose to do that, I was blessed to find that there was a great deal on offer in this new relationship.  I was blessed by her, not just the other way around.  She had, and still has, so much to offer and she was and is such a gracious, empathetic, giving person, that I am truly blessed to have her on my rather short friend list.    She has been my late-night 'rantee' many times, my sounding board, my prayer warrior and an all round great listener.    We don't see each other much in real life, but we 'chat' online often. 

I find myself very grateful for that rebuke because I would have missed out on a great deal and done a great deal of damage in the process. 

This is my friend, the friend I nearly missed out on, because I was so busy trying to 'minister' to her.

"...but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."    Prov 18:24


  1. Kath, this is such a marvellous post; you so deftly teased apart the true and misapplied definitions of friendship.

    Since I'm now housebound, and speech has become difficult, most of my human friends are folks I'll never meet in this life, and that doesn't diminish their value a bit.

    #1 at FMF this week.

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  3. Beautiful post! What a wonderful testimony of your friendship!

    1. Thanks so much for your feedback, Kadie.

  4. Andrew, thanks so much for your feedback. I'm sorry you're housebound, but so glad you've found some real friends. They truly are a gift.