Friendship is a vital but often neglected part of life. It is quickly crowded out by the necessities of work and chores. It can come after we’ve enjoyed entertainment or stay casual in the midst of busyness.
And yet, from God’s perspective, he calls us his friends. God makes his heart and his schedule fully available to us.
In this chapter Ortlund points out that:
In Matthew 11:19 Jesus quotes his accusers as contemptibly calling him “a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (that is, a friend of the most despicable kinds of sinners known in that culture).
What does it mean that Christ is a friend to sinners? At the very least, it means that he enjoys spending time with them. It also means that they feel welcome and comfortable around him.
Here is the promise of the gospel and the message of the whole Bible: In Jesus Christ, we are given a friend who will always enjoy rather than refuse our presence.
Jesus wants to come in to you—wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, naked you—and enjoy meals together. Spend time with you. Deepen the acquaintance.
The conditions of our friendship with Jesus are well established.
He wants to be our friend, but only in the context of truth.
If we are to come into his presence, we must be honest about who we are and what we need.
We have a fundamental spiritual loneliness that is only healed through an ongoing friendship with Jesus.
Living on our own — independent of a friendship with Jesus — is the context in which we continue to sin.
But as we open our hearts to God and know him as a friend, we are also drawn to gladly live for his purposes.
Ortlund thoughtfully points us to the reality that this is a real friendship. It is not just opening our hearts to Jesus. No, Jesus gives us the gift of ‘going second.’
He has already opened wide his heart to us:
On the verge of going to the cross, Jesus tells them, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus’s friends are those to whom he has opened up his deepest purposes.
I think it appropriate to pause and worship Jesus for sharing all that he has heard from the Father with us. What a gift of vulnerability and openness from God to us!
Finally, I particularly cherished Ortlund’s summary of what is on his heart:
What I am trying to say in this chapter is that the heart of Christ not only heals our feelings of rejection with his embrace, and not only corrects our sense of his harshness with a view of his gentleness, and not only changes our assumption of his aloofness into an awareness of his sympathy with us, but it also heals our aloneness with his sheer companionship.
How is your heart encouraged to meditate on the news that Jesus is a constant friend?
What habits would deepen your friendship with Jesus?