Monday, August 29, 2005

I No Longer Call You Servants

Someone found my site with this string: "why did Jesus call them his friends instead of servants."

Now there's a question that deserves an answer. Why did Jesus tell His disciples they are His friends? In what context was He speaking?

Us? Friends with God?

John 15:9-20

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

I'll try to contain myself, as this is one of my favorite passages (the whole of John 15), and focus on the question the searcher was asking.

Jesus Himself tells us why His disciples are His friends, very simply: "A servant does not know his master's business....everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

What makes anyone a friend of anyone else? Intimacy. Sharing. Relationship. Jesus chose to share with His disciples the keys to understanding the promised Kingdom and the Good News of cleansing and eternal life.

I don't know about you, but I find it emotionally overwhelming at times. The God of the universe, who made everything that is and who was, is, and is to come, wants to friend?

The danger of being too familiar with so awesome a God, or of profaning a Name that should be revered, is always there; in a society where people freely use God's name in all the latest expletives, I don't think that should be overlooked. God isn't our "buddy," and despite the popularity of the T-shirt, Jesus is not our "homeboy." Sorry. And it's tantamount to blasphemy to be familiar with the Lord in that way, because it lacks respect and awe that He deserves. We are clay, and we have no agency apart from what's been granted to us by the Potter.

With that said, though, we have to consider the equally awesome fact that God openly declares His desire for intimacy with us. If you serve the God of Israel, the living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you don't need to go to a priest, and you don't have to wait for the chosen Levite to walk to the Holy of Holies once a year. He wants to love, forgive, and embrace you right now.

He talks about obedience in this passage, too--and I love that, because it demonstrates yet again that you can't separate discipleship from submission and obedience--but notice that it's not really a blind obedience. Jesus has shared with His followers what the Father has showed Him. He had walked with His disciples daily, teaching them, showing them God's will, both for His own life and for the Kingdom that had now come. And in that same way, He walks with us now:

Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Once again, obedience is emphasized in connection with discipleship. And Jesus' promise to be WITH THEM to the end couldn't be clearer.

There's something that is so sweet and tender about the words "friend of God"--like the feeling of joyous disbelief you have when you realize your Beloved loves you back. I can hardly believe He wants me...much less that He wants to be my friend.

But then again, who am I to doubt what He declares?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Some (Quite Random) Thoughts on the Workplace

Disjointed, possibly nonsensical thoughts follow. Sorry.

1. The more women try to act like men, the more their own desires and purposes are thwarted and frustrated. Do I think it's okay for a woman to be in the workplace? Yep--I'm here. But "working woman" doesn't have to translate to "man." Have women not figured this out in 50-plus years?

2. Which reminds me. Do you remember those horrible working-gal blouses from the 1980's with the hulking bow at the neck? Ack.

3. Which reminds me. Was I the only little girl who had no idea why the three ladies in 9 to 5 were laughing so hard when they smoked their, um, cigarettes? What a bizarre movie that was, in retrospect.

4. Do young women who show up for interviews think they are dressed appropriately when they are showing cleavage and/or skintight shirts and/or low-slung pants?

Okay, that's not fair of me. I actually do think they believe they are "dressing up," and that their attire is appropriate. These are sweet, studious girls we're talking about. They have no idea how they look to professional workers. Their attire, though pitifully wrong for the office, is their interpretation of what they see in Cosmo and Glamour. Can I really fault them for how they're dressed when neither their mothers nor their fashion mavens have taught them differently? Not in my heart of hearts.

As they get older, many of them will be better able to recognize and implement their own taste and style, and they'll be equipped through experience and observation to dress appropriately for the workplace (and everywhere else).

I hope.

But when I see them, and then think of some of the get-ups I sported (feeling quite grown-up and attractive, mind you), I wince, and I can't help but believe that the passage of time will--for some of them, at least--bring a change for the better.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

hometown victories

It's so strange to be in a college town again--and not be a student. Make no mistake: I am GLAD. Ah, the freedom of walking on North Campus without a test lurking in the shadows, without a paper glaring from the sidelines, without a professor breathing down my neck (no offense to you, Dave Black!).

A college town is such a beautiful thing without, you know, being in college.

I'm mostly joking; I loved many things about being a student. I've always loved to learn. Thank God school didn't completely kick that out of me.

One of my friends wondered why I wanted to come back to Athens. For her, she said, it would feel like a step backwards. I don't know why I don't feel that way too; some of the very worst days of my life were spent here, times that I don't talk about often, but that still grip my throat in a vise of grief and pain when I remember them. This town seemed menacing and dark when I was first saved--the dirt was only freshly washed off my soul, and I recognized the same grime everywhere I looked. I longed for a clean place.

Yet this is the town where I met Ryan; where I first cut my hair as short as Gem's; where I came to really know Jesus Christ; where I prayed with friends and strangers on campus; where I was baptized in the Holy Spirit; where ice cream at Hodgson's is still twenty-five cents.

I consider it a personal victory--won by the blood of Christ--that I can walk these streets in perfect freedom rather than hellish bondage. This town has seen me go from the filthiest rags to the glimmering wings of a New Creation.

Maybe that's why it feels like a Hometown.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Update and Big Sigh of Relief!

One of these days I'll actually get back to, you know, POSTING REGULARLY again instead of throwing out desperately-typed updates here and there.

We're all moved in here in Athens, GA. Home of UGA, the tree that owns itself, the Mean Bean, and, of course, me.

In so many ways this place is home. I love the buzz of the cicadas, the tall antique-looking lightpoles that line the rolling green hills, the grandfatherly oaks of North Campus, the intersection of College and Clayton (the heart of Athens, really)...I could go on and on. (Do NOT say, "Yeah. Obviously.")

As you may be able to tell, I am happy to be here!

I got a job. (!!!) I have to go right now, but I'll be sure to log on again tonight or tomorrow to tell you more.