“Why Do You Think You Are?” Week 3: Our Identity as Friends of Christ
Dear brothers and sisters,
We are in the third week of our September series, which is about our identity. Your identity is what makes you, “you.” During the course of this series, we are looking at who God says we are, at the core of our being. In the first week we talked about our identity as “chosen.” Last week we talked about God calling us “beloved,” and our identity being formed by God’s love and forgiveness.
We look at many different things to form our identity. One way we form our identity might be about who we have met, or who we know. If we know the right people, or if we have the right circle of friends, then that makes us feel important in some way. Have you ever met a famous person, and had your picture taken with this person? Then, do you find yourself “name dropping,” that is, mentioning to others that you met this person, or showing others a picture with that person, as way to brag about yourself or to gain a sense of self-importance in front of others?
Part of this is natural, but in our relationship with God, God wants us to direct this natural desire to find our identity in friends and relationships, toward him. In John 15, Jesus says to his closest disciples, in the context of the Last Supper: This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you (John 15:12-17). Notice here, that the relationship between Jesus and his closest followers has changed, through the course of the few years that they have followed him. They are no longer “slaves” who just follow him from a distance and with rote obedience to his commandments. Now they are “friends.” Now they really know Jesus’ identity and his relationship with God his Father. Jesus’ command to them to love, is not made out of slavery, but out of friendship. Jesus has chosen us; he is our friend, and forming that as part of our core identity, is part of the path of discipleship.
Our friends and relationships do help us to form our identity, but in faith and in baptism, we are friends of Jesus. May we think of Jesus more and more as our friend and ally, and may this be a core part of our identity, formed by spending quality time with him in prayer, and growing each day in a relationship with him.
Questions for Small Groups:
Who are some people you have met that you have felt honored or excited to meet?
Why do you think we get excited to meet famous people, celebrities and people of influence?
What people or organizations have helped you to understand your identity and who you are?
Read aloud John 15:15; what do you imagine had taken place between Jesus and the apostles that brought this change in the way Jesus viewed the apostles?
Jesus says we are his friends if we do what he commands us. What is your reaction to that statement?
On a scale of 1-5, how much do you think of Jesus as your friend? What could you do this week to grow in your friendship with Jesus?