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Jesus’ farewell discourse includes a word of love: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NRSV). It is a steep request. Loving each other is hard even when we like those around us, which clearly Jesus and the disciples did. They traveled and ate together. They stayed in each other’s homes. Loving one another when there is commonality and intimacy comes naturally, but not always easily.
Friendship, according to John 15, is about fidelity and generous vulnerability. Friends are willing to lay down their lives for each other. Friends also share with each other what they know, including (or perhaps especially) what they know from God. “I have called you friends,” Jesus says, “because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15).
News - Familiarity - Christ - Humanity - Christ
This is good news for those who lean in to the familiarity of Christ’s humanity. Christ wants to be friends with us. Christ wants to share with us everything he knows from God. Christ is not interested in power plays or hierarchies. He wants intimacy, sharing and vulnerability, because these are attributes of human flourishing, which is what Christ desires for each of us. In pushing aside the servant-master language of relationship -- “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing” (John 15:15) -- Christ draws us in to a closer relationship, friendship, so that we might discover what life with the Father means.
The bookshelves of many Christian leaders show how widespread “servant leadership” is as a model for relationships in the church and other kinds of Christian community. And while Christ’s words in John 15 describe personal friendship, they also point to a new way of thinking about institutional friendship.
Churches - Neighborhoods
Consider churches that want to serve the neighborhoods...
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