Powerful verse of Jesus talking to His disciples. Even though there is no indication that we should take this snippet of historical narrative and turn it into a normative text that applies to us, I will grant a few things. First of all, He has also let us know all He is doing through His revealed Word. Secondly, if we are true followers of Christ then we are disciples. Even with these concessions we need to context from the previous verse to get the full point of what Jesus was teaching:
You are my friends if you do what I command you. -- John 15: 14 (ESV)
It is real easy to sing on Sundays how we are a friend of God and then behave like hell on Wednesday. Therein once again, lies the rub.
Many will read this and think it is much ado about nothing but I disagree. We have a generation of Christians assured that they are friends with God that are probably anything but. Let me assure you that if you are not, then He is most assuredly your enemy. Modern Christianity mangles so much of the Bible in pursuit of the doctrines of men. We hear all the time about how it's not about religion but about relationship. Wrong. The word religion comes from God so discard it at your own peril. The notion of a personal relationship with Christ is a man-made doctrine that overlooks one very important truth.
Everyone is already in relationship with Christ. The question is what the status of that relationship is. He is either their Lord and Savior or He is their Judge and Jury. Note the status of "friend" was not listed. Beloved hear me very clearly today. Jesus is not your friend if He is not first and foremost your Lord and Savior. That brings us full circle back to the design of the purpose driven church. You will never hear a sermon on the Lordship of Christ. How we need to relinquish ourselves to His rule. That He is our King! Instead you get the "buddy-Jesus." Last year, one mega-church pastor actually preached a sermon entitled, "Jesus -- Our Wingman." This is the friend of God theology at work. We sing songs during worship where we assure ourselves that He is our friend and oh how He loves us and then hear a sermonette about how much He loves us or is our wingman and we seriously do not think this informs our theology?
What about Savior? When was the last time you heard a message about Jesus Christ the Savior? I am willing to bet quite a long time because that is not seeker-friendly. Everyone loves saying how much God loved the world but not so much the rest of the verse that leads to the cross. Next week is Resurrection Sunday (not Easter) and everyone loves to embrace the crown of glory. The problem is you do not get to the crown of glory without the crown of thorns. In order to preach Christ the Savior you are forced to preach why we need to be saved! That leads to the cross and the cross leads to the blood and we can't have any of that anymore. Let's instead sing about how much of friend God is and don't you forget"oh how he loves us!
And then that becomes your belief system. Israel Houghton was actively engaged in an adulterous affair while singing Friend of God in concert. He must consider himself such a friend of God that he thought nothing of airing out his new relationship online for all his family to see. This is not surprising since he was the worship leader at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church. Berean Research once examined all 806 Osteen tweets from a one year period in 2013-14 and found that he mentioned Jesus only three times. That is less than 1% of the time. So the beat goes on. With each passing year we see worship slipping more and more into this carnal amorphous slop that teams up with this Jesus-less, blood-less, cross-less preaching to poison the church and have it rot from the inside out. If you point any of this out the vision caster pastor-dude will say that you are being selfish by not buying into his vision, which he will claim is from God, and blessedly subtract you from the sheepfold. On your way out you will hear that familiar refrain coming from the sanctuary, no doubt:
I am a friend of God...He calls me friend...
Hope you're right.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 12, 2017