John 15:15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. [NASB]
Moving from slave to friend is a progression. Long before I was even aware of a thing called a “personal” relationship with Jesus, I believed Jesus was God’s son and I was a faithful church member. Faithful in the sense I was there and I was active. There were very good reasons to be there. Church was a place where people put their best face forward. The activities were at an obvious level of insulated kindness and integrity. It was a place we went every Sunday as a family without question. I was a willing, and content, “slave” to religion. Thankfully that was enough to keep me there because as it turns out “religion” is the very busy place the Spirit of God often chooses to reveal the truth that Jesus was born for slaves in the midst of religion!
That’s the progression of how my friendship with Jesus became a reality. Friendship is what connects John 15:15 and my Advent celebration this year. It was friendship that revealed the Cradle as more than the destination of an annual Advent celebration. That long-ago Cradle is where God revealed His desire for our future: Jesus, God in-the-flesh, born to be our pathway from slavery to salvation and friendship.
John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. [NRSV]
I’m still working on the idea of shared DNA. The celebration of Jesus’s birth is our annual reminder that God did in fact replicate His own redemptive DNA. If God is the ultimate creator of us all, then we share that same DNA. That is our proof we are personally “related” to Jesus. Friendship and obedience are like genes on that redemptive DNA string that can produce amazing similarities and distinct differences. Genes spell out the information they contain but interact differently with one another and may affect the traits the gene controls. So while the DNA may contain the same information the results may be different.
Some may read John 15:14 and conclude that IF we do what Jesus commands, we are His friends. That is certainly true, but just as true is the conclusion that BECAUSE we are Jesus’s friends we will do as He commands. Christmas activity is filled with cookies, cakes and candy. This cute word play helps makes my point about the variation John 15:14 addresses: “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.” It’s a humorous way to say we’ve got the DNA and we’ve got the genes but they don’t always spell the same thing. Advent is God’s reminder to us our relationship to Him is not an either/or option. It has to be both friendship and obedience. God placed his own DNA in that Bethlehem cradle long ago to reveal our relationship to Jesus is our genetic connection to Him that makes that possible.