Promotion to friendship? – Friday, 5th Week of Easter – Acts 15:22-31/ John 15:12-17
At the concert to celebrate the coronation of Charles III, Katy Perry told the world that she was invited to perform and stay at Windsor castle with her mother. Clearly, she was ‘chosen’ to perform because of her accomplishment in the world of pop music. From humble beginnings singing in churches, Katy Perry has now established herself as one of the biggest music acts in the world with 108.8 million followers on twitter. Yet, it is clear that she was ‘chosen’ to sing at the concert for what she achieved as a performer.
For a minute, sit back and do a bit of introspection. You and I are chosen too. No, not to sing at the coronation concert but to be friends of another King, Jesus. Talking to the twelve on that first Maundy Thursday, somewhere between the last supper table and the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus tell the apostles that He chose them. They were not chosen because they had a million followers. They were not chosen because they had a great fishing business. They were not chosen because they were erudite speakers. They were chosen simply because Jesus picked them. This is not the first time he has said this for in John 13:18 he says, “I know whom I have chosen.”
Christ tells the apostles and by extension speaks also to us, that we don’t have to climb Mt Everest to get his attention. He simply chose us and he took it one step ahead by calling us his friends and by doing that He invited us into his inner circle. This Jesus club has no enrolment fee or a list of unreasonable demands. His is an invitation with no hidden clause. It is not what we can do for him but what he chose to do for us; to offer his life for us in order to seal that bond of friendship. In return he asks that we love one another as he has loved us.
All our achievements for Christ and his Church ring hollow, if at the end of the day, we are not recognized and seen as people who love. If Christ is not mirrored in us then the world will not see Jesus or experience His love. We are the only Jesus some may ever see.
It may seem that Jesus graduated or promoted the apostles from ‘servants’ to ‘friends’. Did the apostles just get an internal promotion? Many who read this text may also find this term ‘servant’ or ‘slave’ rather strange when the word ‘disciples’ would have sounded more in line with Jesus’ relationship with the twelve. Did Jesus see his apostles as servants or slaves? Are we not the children of God and if so, why uses such a word like ‘servant’?
Servanthood is but the essence of our vocation, the character of our love, and the gift of ourselves to one another. Jesus did not say, you are no longer servants in your vocation to the world. If he said that, he would be contradicting his very words when he washed their feet. What he is saying in essence is that while you are still called to service, in my heart I honour you with the relationship that friends are called to. Because you serve you are my friends. When you serve you have understood the one commandment I give you, ‘to love one another.’
We arrive at the gift of friendship, never graduating from servant work but raised to the level of holy love. We are transformed in our self-understanding from responsibility to a master to the obedience of love. We become the friends of Jesus to find ourselves no longer his servants but the empowered servants of others.