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Seeds of the Kingdom

Friends of Jesus or Friends of the World?

by Jilly Lyon-Taylor

13 January 2014

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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 15:14-15, NIV

What an amazing statement this is by Jesus, that He calls us His friends! In the Old Testament there are a few individuals who are referred to as friends of God. For instance, in Isaiah 41:8 God speaks of ‘Abraham my friend’, and in Exodus 33:11 we are told that ‘The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend’. However, it may be easier for us to think of those mighty men of the Bible as friends of God than it is to consider ourselves in that way, but that is how Jesus sees us.

One of my favourite hymns has always been the one written by Joseph Scriven:

‘What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer’.

However, the hymn goes on to declare:
‘Oh what peace we often forfeit,
Oh what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer’.

In our friendship with Jesus we have everything we need, but sometimes we forfeit this grace because our friendship with the world and the flesh has become more important to us than our relationship with Jesus. James puts this very strongly in his letter when he writes: ‘Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God’ (James 4:4).

Friendship with the world can mean different things for each of us. For some it is the lure of financial gain, the love of money, success and worldly ambition; for some it is the desire of the carnal nature to indulge in ungodly sexual activity, or greed for food, drink or possessions; for others it may just be independence, wanting to live our lives our way and feeling that we have a ‘right’ to do this. The world’s ways are in conflict with God’s, and if we give in to the temptation to engage in friendship with the world, it will spoil our friendship with the Lord. Even worse, James tells us that it results in us becoming enemies of God!

It’s such a privilege to be a friend of Jesus. Let’s embrace this friendship and put Him first in all things. If we do this, we’ll find that He is utterly faithful and we’ll remain in His peace. If we don’t, we may find that we’ve become enemies of God! Which will you choose – friendship with Jesus or friendship with the world?

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You so much that You regard me as a friend and not just a servant. Please forgive me for any ways in which I have put friendship with the world before my friendship with You. Help me to be faithful to You and always to put You first in future. Amen.

Jilly Lyon-Taylor is part of the Leadership Team at Ellel Pierrepont. She worked in publishing and then with children in Hong Kong before concentrating on being a full-time mother and serving in the local church. Her desire to see people healed led her to the Luke Nine Eleven Training Scheme(NETS) at Pierrepont, and now she teaches and ministers there.


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