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~ Deepening our Relationship with Christ ~
Paul J. Bucknell
Deepening Intimacy | Obedience | Assumptions
Means of Intimacy #1 The Vinedresser | #2 True Vine | #3 Success |
#4 Means of Success | #5 Promise of Abiding | #6 Purpose of Abiding |
#7 Need of Obedience | #8 Need of Love | Friendship John 15:16-17 | Applying the Principles John 15:16 | Summary Principles |
Study Questions | Small Group Questions
Purpose: Genuine Friendships reflects on a very deep and personal experience the author had while meditating on John 15:15-16 and the thought on how Jesus has befriended me.
I have always longed for deep friendship. It is rather embarrassing to discover one of the important causes for this need in the middle of one’s life. It is not that I had no friends; I had many friends. But I longed for deep friends.
￼Perhaps this was because I was separated from my father at an early age. As I began to explore becoming more intimate with God, I asked Him to teach me how to do this. I didn’t quite know how to pursue this relationship with Him.
I was rather surprised one of the first steps in becoming more intimate with Him was for Him to teach me about friendship. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the penetrating message of John 15:15-16 to sink deep into my friendship-craving heart.
“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. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.” (John 15:15-16, NASB)
The Lord was to be my friend, not just my master. I sensed the Lord’s presence as I thought through these penetrating messages.
Upon reading this later statement, I was humbled. I realized that I have spent time with the Lord but that He wanted more time. He wanted me to drop listening to a radio station to spend more focused time with Him. I could sense the tension in my soul. I was an active guy and liked working on projects. It was hard for me to slow down and just be friends.
I was determined this close relationship was what I really desired. I perceived that my childhood separation was allowed to shape my desires for deeper intimacy with Him. I made the necessary commitments to follow up more deliberate and concentrated times with Him alone. The Lord loves to put His teaching into action.
A bit later I was in my study reading an article on intimacy. As I was reading, one of my sons came up to my study to review his math with me. He was having difficulty with one problem. For some reason I couldn’t understand his second grade book’s instructions. I told him just to do the part of the problem that was clear. I just wanted to return to reading my article. I guess my suggestion was too nonconforming. He just couldn’t accept my words. I wanted to read my article on intimacy and here my son was disturbing me. Shortly afterwards, I cast him from my study until he could compose himself.
But the Spirit of God was already working in my heart. I clearly saw the Lord’s displeasure. Here I was trying to spend time with the Lord, but I wasn’t even able to patiently put up with my son’s little problem. The verse from 1 Corinthians 13 was convicting me, “Love is patient.”
My heart was greatly humbled. I didn’t want my Heavenly Father to treat me the way I treated my son! I must not treat God or my son in this way. I apologized to them both. My problem was cleverly identified, “A friend likes to spend time with a friend.” I needed to be a true friend myself. I must spend time with those around me that I love.
The Lord didn’t waste a second. Not long afterwards my 9 year-old daughter entered my study. I found out that she didn’t go out with the other children to invite others to our next week’s Bible Club. I was prompted that this was another opportunity to spend extra time with someone – to be a friend. So I ignored what I was doing and like Jesus would have done, spent time with my girl. This turned out to be the most significant conversation I ever had with her!
She had been having a lot of troubles with fears. So I began to share some scriptures with her on where the Lord had told her not to fear and worry. At first she didn’t want to pray, but after I prayed for her and freed her mind to think clearly, she was willing. She repeated a repentance and forgiveness prayer after me, line by line. I then asked her in a prayerful spirit to share what fears were on her heart. After a moment, she said the fear of sickness and the fear of embarrassment. After this prayer and further conversation about salvation matters, she left free and happy as a lark. God had taken away her long-standing stomachache. God had delivered her from her oppressive fears.
How thankful I am that I took time to be with my daughter rather than chasing her out of my study for privacy. I am by God’s grace trying to give that special focus to each person that I meet so that I might discern how the Lord wants me to show any special love to them. I need so much help in this area, but what an exciting start!
A friend must be a friend. When walking with Jesus, I need to pause with Him and when He wants me to spend extra time with others, I do despite how busy I might think I am. Tozer said,
“Our relation to Jesus is all that really matters. A true Christian faith is an attachment to the Person of Christ that is intellectual, volitional and exclusive.”
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