Letters from Neil | May 28th, 2020

July 7, 2020  |  Redemption AZ

May 28, 2020

Good morning Salties and friends,

It’s getting too hot too soon! Just a reminder that if Governor Ducey doesn’t declare Phase 2 beginning allowing for 50 or less to gather we won’t be able to meet next Thursday. We are anticipating that he will, but stay tuned.

Today we’ll look first at John 14:14-15; “You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you my friends for all that I’ve heard from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus is describing a change in His relationship with His people. We are no longer servants, a relationship governed by laws. Instead, He calls us friends a relationship governed by grace. There is no legal responsibility arising out of friendship. There’s no need for a court of law to settle a case based on obligations of one friend to another. 

The servant/master (employer/employee) is based on a quid pro quo; the incentive to work is based on an agreement; certain wages in exchange for certain service. That was the basis of God’s relationship to the Israelites. He chose them to be His people and promised blessings in exchange for their keeping His commandments and walking in His ways (Deut 28:1-6). A friend will do work for a friend but there is no fixed amount of pay. Once there is pay it’s no longer based on friendship but on reward. The incentive for a friend to work isn’t fear of not getting paid, which is an external source of motivation. Working for a friend is something we do from the heart, an internal source. A mother’s work may be the greatest example; the sacrifices, the long hours, truly a labor of love. Our service to the Lord should be a labor of love. If we’re doing it out of guilt or to score points with God, we need to reevaluate our motivation. Jesus calls us His friends. Therefore, when we’re serving for a friend it should be done out of love and joy not drudgery or reward. 

As a friend of God, we get to receive and understand God’s Word (John 14:15). God called Abraham His friend. Because he was his friend, God revealed to Abe what He intended to do to Sodom and Gomorrah, while Moses, the one through whom the law was given to Israel was only called “my servant” by God. In the New Testament, those who receive God’s gift of grace are never called servants.

In John 14:16, we see more of what it means to be a friend of Jesus. First, He chose us, we didn’t choose Him. He takes the initiative; yes, we must believe, but if He didn’t first choose us, we would not have believed. Next, He appointed us, meaning we have a job to do. We each have a role to play in the church. Third, we will bear fruit, when we abide (a word used 10 times in verse 4-10 of chapter 15) in Him. Not Satan nor the world will be able to erode our service done in our love for Him and our neighbor. Finally, He will answer our prayers when asked in obedience to God’s will.

What a Friend we have in Jesus! Neil