Thursday, February 26, 2009
Current Study: A to Z
Today’s Topic: Friends Forever
Today’s Scripture: John 15:13-15 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 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.
Jesus continually challenged the world’s perspective on life. After thousands of years of misdirection, it needed to be challenged. Jesus literally turned the world upside down with his principles. “Thou shalt not murder” became “Don’t even hate.” “Don’t commit adultery” became “Don’t even look longingly.” “Get ahead and be first” became “Help others get ahead by serving them.” Jesus was constantly challenging us to think from the perspective of His kingdom and not ours.
One of the ways he shakes up the status quo of today is to invite His followers into upper management. The business world in which we live is structured for advancement and status. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Put in your time at the lower levels and prove yourself faithful and you may earn a promotion. Follow orders well enough and maybe you’ll make sergeant. But all the time you’re working hard, you’re doing so rather blindly, without any real knowledge of the inner workings of the company. You may know the corporate mission statement to help you have a minimal understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, but you certainly aren’t invited to the CEO’s office for consultation on important decisions. You are labeled as labor, and you are dispensable if you don’t like it.
Then along comes Jesus, who chooses 12 men and grants them full rights of leadership from the beginning. Even the one He knew would be unfaithful was granted the privilege of being the corporate treasurer. Sure they had to go through a training program, but they were placed in their positions long before they completed it. The business model of the Kingdom was totally opposite of the world’s. Jesus knew that turning laborers into partners was the best way to do business. No one in the Kingdom of God starts at the bottom. Everyone who applies for a position is immediately hired and granted a management position. There is never a need for promotion. But be careful – demotion is possible. It is possible through unfaithfulness and disobedience to be deemed unfit for service. But that’s for another day.
I am fascinated by the statement of Jesus when He says, “You are my friends.” The model of business relationships that I worked under and which I managed others under for so many years was that management and labor were to remain separate. Labor would receive rewards for their work, but they were not respected or considered qualified to give input into corporate decisions. They were simply oxen yoked together to provide power for pulling the big shots around, who used them for their undisclosed purposes. But Jesus has totally redefined corporate structure. Unfortunately, in most cases, the church is the only place applying these principles. At least the church better be.
When anyone, no matter who they are, walks into the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ and is forgiven for their sins, they are immediately granted full access to everything the Father has to offer them. God’s faithful forgiveness makes them the friend of Jesus forever, with equal status to anyone who is already in the Kingdom. Need proof? Read on. Jesus said, And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones… (Luke 22:29-30) The Apostle Paul says, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3) He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure… (Ephesians 1:9) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus… (Ephesians 2:6) So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:9)
We are not simply servants of the Master. We are not mere laborers in the Kingdom. We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We are children of God with full rights of sonship. Everything the Father wills for His Kingdom has been revealed to us so that we are partners with Christ in accomplishing His purpose. We do not simply obey orders to receive a reward. We cooperate with Christ in ministry as friends. We are not motivated to serve so that we might earn a promotion. We serve and obey because of the joy of our present promoted position. We are the friends of God, and He has intimately shared with us every detail of His Kingdom so that we might know Him and thereby serve Him faithfully. By faith we have been forgiven, and the Father makes us His friends. FASCINATING. We are the forever friends of God.