When I think of Jesus, I automatically call Him Lord. We address Him with such reverence because He is King of our lives—worthy of everything we have and do (Revelation 19:16).
But that’s not all He is. In John 15 Jesus clearly calls the disciples—and by extension us—his friends.
In a brilliant dynamic, Christ is not only our righteous, royal Master, but also our most intimate friend.
This news brings a sweet joy to my heart, and it should for you too!
As we obey and love Him as our Master, He listens and comforts us. As we live for His glory, He walks with us, encouraging and guiding us through the Spirit, His Word, and His church.
How did this relationship come about? Because of His selfless love. Though we were deep in sin against Him, He still chose to come and restore us to Himself.
Jesus provides the ultimate example for friendship, and encapsulates it in this description:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (ESV)
Pause and remember: Jesus fulfilled this very definition at the cross. In doing so He made Himself our friend to the highest degree of love imaginable.
As we seek to follow and obey Him in everything, this is no exception. We are a genuine friend to others when we lay down our life like Jesus did.
So what does that look like? All of us may not have a physical cross, but there is a spiritual life-giving that needs to take place. We have to be willing to give all of ourself to our friends.
To grasp this further, let’s examine Christ’s own life. He demonstrated a beautiful example of friendship, one that we should prayerfully and gracefully follow in these 3 ways.
We are to be servant-minded, just like Christ.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:4-7
This passage is rich with truth, but in this case there is one detail to zero in on—Jesus, the glorious Son of God, took the form of a servant. The most literal translation of the text is that He became a slave. Wow.
How do we show friendship to our sisters in Christ? We nurture a desire to serve—a heart that seeks to give and not always receive.
Each day, look outside of yourself. Be mindful of the circumstances and struggles of your friends—what is their greatest need right now?
Have a heart hunting for opportunities to bring joy, exhortation, or hope to their lives.
A crucial step in this is prayer. Jesus prayed for His disciples, bringing them before the Father continually. He prayed for each and every one of us believers before His walk down Calvary (John 17).
Prayer sets our thoughts on our sisters. Tell friends you’re praying for them, and check in regarding updates on their requests. Use this as a chance to gauge how you can practically minister to them.
Finally, keep these words on your daily agenda: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV)
Having the attitude of the servant, of Christ, we then can step out in faith.
A poignant illustration of Jesus’ active service happens right before the cross.
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
…[he] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” John 13:1,4-5 (ESV)
He loved them to the very end. We have to be committed to loving our friend through every season. Not only that, we have to love without limits.
In that day, washing feet was one of the lowliest acts possible, the duty of the lowest servant in the home. And we have to ask ourselves: what are we willing to do for our friends? Are we willing to do what’s inconvenient, humbling—the job no one else wants?
Maybe it’s listening for hours while your friend grieves over a loved one. Or changing her babies’ diapers when she’s sick. Or as simple as sending her texts of Scripture in the midst of a busy week.
This isn’t merely about Christ’s example. He commands us to put our love for Him into practice by loving one another.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14 (ESV)
Finally, we serve our friends like Christ when we speak the truth in love. Jesus was not afraid to share correction and wisdom, even to those dearest to him.
That’s so hard right—to not be wary of offending our friends?
Yet we love our sisters most deeply when we point them to Christ, even when it goes against their plans. We follow Jesus when we focus on our sister’s holiness, knowing temporary discomfort can lead to the greatest joy.
One instance of this is Jesus tenderly exhorting Martha:
“…she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'” Luke 10:40-42 (ESV)
Martha was not wrong in showing hospitality, but Jesus wanted to address her motivation. Rather than be intimidated by her presumptuous request, Christ graciously showed her the way better than her selfishness or striving—worship.
With Christ’s help, we too must build the courage to lead our friends to God and His Word, because it’s the truth that saves and heals.
With this only giving us a glimpse, we see Christ gives the best example of friendship! However, it is also the most difficult.
We may struggle in these areas, but with the leading of the Holy Spirit and a dedication to the Word, day by day He can grow us in being faithful to our friends! The more we meditate on our Savior, the more inspiration we have to share His love with those around us.
About the Author:
Dani is an Ivy-Leaguer turned homemaker immensely humbled and inspired by God’s grace. As a young wife and mommy, she’s eager to share how freedom and truth beautifully come together in Jesus in the everyday and extraordinary. Her blog Free Indeed – www.livingfreeindeed.com – aims to give women hope from God’s Word that refreshes their hearts to serve Christ faithfully.