Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Friend Jesus

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Those who like to think of Jesus as their friend are sad to me. Perhaps they don't have any friends, so Jesus become their imaginary friend. Friendship is great, but I don't really need more friends -- I need a righteous Savior, not a life coach. I need a powerful King, not a listening ear. I need a divine Hero, not an encouraging friend. I need someone to fix my world. My heart is so dark, I need radical and divine intervention. I suppose we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we're doing pretty good.

Paul tells us (Galatians 1, Philippians 3, etc.) that he was better than anyone else at "being good." And it didn't work. No peace that way. In fact, Paul says that "goodness" is a hindrance to the gospel's work and I've seen this. The good, rich, friendly, church people rarely understand the gospel. When I tell them, "Jesus died for you," they yawn and say, "Lots of people do lots of great things for me. I'm so glad Jesus died for me -- that was really nice of him to do. Thanks, Jesus! I'll do something for you, too, sometime." Actually, I think they are trying to avoid Jesus. "If I keep my nose clean, I'll never have to come begging to Jesus. I'm not perfect, but I'm hoping to get close so that I don't have to beg often."

The Jesus in the Bible is looking for people who are begging, begging for forgiveness, begging for mercy, begging for justice. He is drawn to these people, and they love him. To everyone who asks, it will be given. Everyone who seeks will find.

The poor, the broken, the weak, the vulnerable understand it so quickly. That's probably why the church is growing so much faster in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and China than in the United States.

Lord, have mercy on me, a rich, educated, white man. Teach me to be a begger -- so that I may enjoy the lavish grace you offer to make me wealthy and wise beyond my imagination.

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photograph courtesy Tudor Hulubei

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Blogger Steve said...

How would you nuance this in reference to John 15 (esp. vs. 13-15)?

10:36 AM, March 01, 2007  
Blogger W Sofield said...

Great question, Steve. I think Jesus was not thinking about friendship in the same way as we normally think of it.

If I tell you, "Steve, you can be my friend if you do whatever I tell you to do." You might not be so agreeable to our friendship. In fact, I'm not being a good friend when I say that, but that's what Jesus says.

In John 15, he is trying to tell us that though he is a king, he is unlike any other king. He can be trusted not to seek his own political and military power over and against us. He can be trusted not to keep secrets from us. He's not trying to manipulate us. In these ways, he is like a friend to us. But (as I said), his friendship is also unlike any other friendship.

He's the most loving friend that deserves and demands allegience.

He's the most powerful king that serves his people and their joy, not his own power and position.

10:45 AM, March 01, 2007  

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