Christianity 201

August 14, 2016

Servants, Friends, and Brothers

•••by Russell Young

  “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (Jn 15:15, NIV)

Many apply the encouragement of being friends with Christ to themselves, although the Lord was clearly speaking to his disciples. The wording contains several points that might enlighten the reader concerning the status that the Lord has presented for friendship with him.

He said, “I no longer call…” All of redeemed humankind start their lives as servants (Rom 6:22; Eph 6:6; Rev 22:6).  They have been bought with the blood of Christ (1 Cor 6:20) and belong to him (Rom 7:4; Jas 2:7). He is their lord and master and without obedience to his call upon their lives they cannot achieve the holy state that is required for eternal salvation. (Heb 5:9) Those who are Christ’s must be led by him. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27, NIV) It is against human nature to want to be ruled by another; but, without the instruction, leadership, and power of Christ no one can live righteously. Those who are blind need a leader. The believer is to live humbly before Christ. (Mt 23:12; Jas 4:6; 1 Pet 5:6) His beginning is that of a servant.

The reason that Christ elevated the relationship of his disciples from servant to “friend” was because they knew his business and what he was about.  He had revealed his business to them and they had heard and had chosen to participate in its accomplishment.  They knew him and had forged an honourable and loving relationship with him. They no longer needed the level of guidance that a servant requires because they understood his will and had responded according to it.  His mission became their mission. Friends take seriously the heart and the goals of friends.  The requirement for service had not changed, but oversight and direction for it was no longer necessary; the Lord’s purposes were being mutually achieved.

Readers of God’s Word should not confuse the issue; they are servants until their heart is in tune with God’s will and their practices reflect his purposes…until his will has become their will.  Until such a state exists, the believer remains a servant and requires direct and personal leadership from the Lord; he remains a servant.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right [“power”, KJV] to become children of God.”  (Jn 1:12, NIV) John’s teaching is that believers have the power (The power comes through the Holy Spirit.) to become children of God. Paul has recorded, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom 8:14, NIV) It is Paul’s teaching that believers (those who follow the Lord’s leadership) “are predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Rom 8:29) They will no longer display the characteristics and interests of their old nature, but will have been conformed to his.

servants friends and brothers  Being classified as a son of God is an even greater elevation.  A son of the Father is also a brother of Christ. “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister, and mother.” (Mk 3:35, NIV)

The privilege and honour of being elevated to the status of a brother of Christ from being a friend is not one that is given freely and without cost.  The believer’s adoption comes at the redemption of his body (Rom 8:23); it follows his conformation to the likeness of Christ. The person who would enjoy the privilege of a brother of Christ and of a son of God must warrant it. He or she must have the characteristics of a son so that they might belong in the family.  They must honour and love their brothers, including Christ, and they must obey their Father. (Mt 7:21)

A son or daughter knows the affairs of the household because they are in it and commune personally with those in it and especially with their Father, loving him, seeking direction from him, and honouring him. Those who in their arrogance reject the authority of the Father through his Son and who continue to disregard his admonitions for righteousness and obedient service, who remain slaves to sin and their own interests, will not be a permanent part of God’s family. (Jn 8:35)

Those of this world are God’s enemies, alienated from him; their interests are not his interests. As they separate themselves from the world through the ministries of Christ they will be brought to the various relationship stages…first as a servant, then a friend, and into the relationship of a son of the Father and as a brother of Christ.

March 20, 2013

Are You All In?

Today’s devotional is from the blog of Kerry Shook pastor of Woodland Hills in Houston, Texas, and coauthor of One Month to Live and Love at First Sight.  This originally appeared a few days ago under the title Striking Arrows.

There is an obscure passage in the Old Testament Second Kings where the prophet Elijah is coming to the end of his life, and he has lived an all-out, no regrets, totally committed life to God. He runs into the King of Israel, and the King of Israel wants him to prophesy, so Elijah prophesied over the king. He said, “I want you, King, to take an arrow and shoot it out the window.” The king did, and Elijah said that arrow represented that the king was going to be the tip of the arrow to bring victory over his enemies to the people of Israel.

Then Elijah did something really strange, he asked the king to do this, and it is found in Second Kings chapter 13. Then he said,

“Take the arrows, and the king took them, and Elijah told him ‘strike the ground,’ and he struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, ‘you should have struck the ground five or six times, then you would have defeated Arum and completely destroyed it but now you will defeat it only three times.’”

Now, the king only striking the ground three times was a symbol that he was halfhearted as a king. He was holding back and wasn’t completely all out surrendered in reckless abandonment to the love of God. He was always holding back and being tentative. He wasn’t completely in the game. He just struck the ground three times in life, and I’m afraid, many times, that I just strike the ground three times in relationships, and I’m halfhearted.

When we come to the end of our lives, all those awards, achievements, success and money won’t matter. All that will matter is your relationships. Your relationship to your Creator. Have you made peace with God? Your relationships to the people around you.

In all my years of being at the bedside of folks when they take their last breath, I have never once heard anyone say, “You know Pastor Kerry, could you make sure they bring my Ferrari in here so I can just touch it one last time before I go and my kids take it and wreck it. Could you just bring it in here? Could you just tell me my bank account? Could you just give me the numbers one more time? I just want to hear it ringing in my ears when I die before my kids fight over it. Could you bring me my trophies and my awards because I want them to be close to me?”

No, I have never once heard that, but I’ve heard over and over again family, friends and loved ones around me because at the end of life, the only thing that matters is relationships. You can be on the cover of People magazine, and the most famous person in the world. You can be at the top of Forbes list of the wealthiest people in the world, but if you don’t have love, then you are a zero because all that matters in life, when its all said and done, is did he love? Did she love? That’s the only thing that’s going to last. It’s the only thing that never fails. Attraction fails. Success fails. Accomplishments fail. In the end, the only thing that matters is love. Love never fails. I have to be all out totally committed to striking the arrows on the ground as many times as it takes.

What can you do to be all out committed to your relationships?