“You are my friends if you do what I command.” ~John 15:14
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. That line is the centerpiece of the most successful ad campaign ever against drunk driving. And it works so well because it doesn’t target drunk drivers. It targets the friends of the drunk drivers. The ads appeal to the power of friendship. Friendship says, “If I care about you, if I really love you, I won’t stand by and let you hurt yourself.”
That’s the context of Jesus’ words to his disciples in the upper room. That’s the point when Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” It’s not a threat. This statement doesn’t declare our friendship with Jesus to be tenuous or overly-conditional. These words don’t yank the rug out from under the confidence and assurance we have as Jesus’ friends. He died for us while we were sinners. While we were God’s enemies he sacrificed his life for us. That question’s been answered. This statement, rather, affirms our close relationship to him. What he’s saying is, “Friends don’t let friends ignore God.”
When we become friends with Jesus we trust him. And we obey him because we trust him. We do what he says because we know what he says is always in our best interests. I’ve heard this before, “God loves you just the way you are but he loves you too much to leave you that way.”
You would never, ever just sit there and watch your child drink a bottle of deadly poison. You would never, ever just stand there and watch your best friend walk into the path of an on-coming truck. You can’t. And Jesus will never, ever just sit there and ignore your sin. He can’t. It’s because we’re his friends that he wants us to obey his commands. And it’s because we’re his friends that we want to obey.
Jesus calls us his friends. We are his friends. And as our best friend, Jesus loves us, protects us, defends us, forgives us, sacrifices for us, and saves us. He died for us. We don’t have a better friend. And as we walk in that friendship and delight in that relationship, may we commit to being for one another the kind of friend Jesus is to us.