Luke 15:1-3 (The Message) By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.”
PEACE. Do you feel the difference of spending time with an ‘old friend’ as opposed to an acquaintance? As an introvert, I struggle to make ‘small talk’, to grease the wheels of relationships in the early stages – just ask my wife Simone about our first few conversations! Once those friendships are established though I feel a real sense of relaxation, or peace, just being in the company of that person. Conversation is unforced – and maybe not even necessary in all situations. We can just be in each other’s presence comfortably. We can be ourselves knowing that we are completely accepted and accepting of each other. Jesus wants to be our friend in that way. He wants us to be at peace in his presence.
JOY. Reading the story of Jesus in the gospels we often focus on the miracles, the parables and the teaching that Jesus does and we can miss the life Jesus led. Jesus understood that his life was the culmination of God’s rescue plan for all of humanity. He was ushering in God’s Kingdom. This was to be celebrated. N T Wright in his book ‘Simply Jesus’ puts it like this; “But it wasn’t just healings. It was also parties – celebrations. Jesus, to be sure, often spent long times alone in prayer. But he was also deeply at home where there was a party, a kingdom party, a celebration of the fact that God was at last taking charge.” Jesus wants us to experience the JOY of friendship with him. Celebrating the good news that in him heaven and earth have come together.
LOVE. All true friendships are love relationships. In most cases, not romantic love – and when we talk about love, our western worldview usually struggles to see past romantic love, which makes us reluctant to talk or even think about love in our friendships – Deep, genuine friends though are deeply loving. Friends are patient, friends are kind. they do not envy, they do not boast, they are not proud. They do not dishonour others, they are not self-seeking, they are not easily angered, they keep no record of wrongs. They do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. They always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere… (if this sounds familiar check out 1 Corinthians 13). Jesus is offering us all that kind of friendship.
Jesus wants to be my friend, forever!
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