Week 5: True Friendship

May 9, 2021
Primary Text: 
John 15:9-17
Big Idea of the Message: 
Christ demonstrated true friendship through sacrificial love and called us to do the same.

As those who are living in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, we are called to reflect on what following Christ in the realm of relationship looks like.  In the friendship Jesus shares with his disciples, he embodies sacrificial selflessness for these individuals who own faithfulness to him constantly wavers.  In other words, Jesus is the example of a true friend.

Jesus sums up all the commands in the Hebrew Bible in the singular phrase, “Love one another.” This is the theme of his ministry, the heart of his teaching.  And in relation to friends, this is the same command Jesus comes back to: sacrificial love for each other.  Jesus says that true friendship is a willingness to serve and sacrifice—even one’s own self-interest and life—for the good of another.  In this way, Jesus raises the standard of friendship from a simple version of philia love (“brotherly love”), and presents a relationship based on agapē love (“unconditional love”).

To live as incarnations of the resurrected Christ in our relationships is to be willing to see all interactions with all humans through the lens of agapē.  Jesus ends his teaching saying, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”  He is not saying, “do whatever I say, if you want to be my friend;” instead, he is saying that when his disciples finally obey his command to love each other unconditionally, then they will finally cross the line into authentic friendship.

Discussion Questions:
  • Think about your best friend.  What was an attribute that they displayed that earned them your commitment & trust?
  • Unconditional love is HARD.  It always requires sacrifice…because it means giving up our own preferences & attitudes in favor or another.  It’s about making room for someone else in your life, other than yourself.  I once watched an interview where a man said that he had decided to love his wife unconditionally…no more nitpicking, just love.  The other person’s response was, “She better get herself a barrel.”  I thought that was a great illustration of just how rare that kind of love truly is, so rare that we don’t always see it coming & need to do everything we can to get ready.  What would it be like if we loved that way in all relationships? Without expectation or limits?
  • Think of someone who loves/loved you unconditionally?  What is/was that like?
  • How can we better embody Christ’s love and grace to those in our relationship circles?
  • What’s something you can do each day to remind yourself to love unconditionally? (it’s not a switch that can flipped, it’s a daily, hourly—sometimes by the second—choice we have to make)
  • Close your time together in prayer.