I Call You Friends
May 6, 2018 - Jared Jaggers
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Trying to determine who is “in” and who is “out” has been a question haunting the church for centuries. Peter in our New Testament Lesson found himself crossing the line of in and out in a dramatic fashion, and this story in Acts tells us how all of us Gentiles came to be included in the Christ followers. After Peter baptized these Gentiles who received the Holy Spirit, his defense of his new baptismal policy was simply, “Who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
The Gospel of John reminds us that it’s really not our church to decide who is in or out, but it is God’s church and the grace of our Lord Jesus that includes all of us in the people of God. Jesus calls us to remain close to him now that we’re included by keeping his command by loving one another.
The beauty of this passage is that Jesus models the ultimate perfection of love by giving his own life for his friends. Friends – we are all included as friends of God through Jesus because Jesus has shown us God’s vision for the world. God’s vision is for love to triumph and for the world to be made right. We all see ways in which the world is not as it should be because of illness, poverty, death, and suffering; but God is working toward a Kingdom on earth as in heaven that will do away with these things.
As friends of God, we are partners who work together to embody the Kingdom of God here and now. We do this primarily by embodying Jesus’ love to those around us. When we are tempted to act selfishly or to hate our neighbors, we need the wisdom of Peter – to stay out of God’s way – and the commands of Jesus – to give ourselves for love of others.