Thursday, December 18, 2014

My treachery ... and yours

"They have dealt treacherously against the Lord."  - - - Hosea 5:7

Believer, here is a sorrowful truth! Thou art the beloved of the Lord, redeemed by blood, called by grace, preserved in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, on thy way to Heaven, and yet, "thou hast dealt treacherously" with God, thy best friend; treacherously with Jesus, whose thou art; treacherously with the Holy Spirit, by whom thou hast been quickened unto life eternal! How treacherous you have been in the matter of vows and promises. Do you remember the love of your espousals, that happy time - - - the springtide of your spiritual life? Oh, how closely did you cling to your Master then! saying, "He shall never charge me with indifference; my feet shall never grow slow in the way of His service; I will not suffer my heart to wander after other loves; in Him is every store of sweetness ineffable. I give all up for my Lord Jesus' sake." Has it been so? Alas! if conscience speak, it will say, "He who promised so well has performed most ill. Prayer has oftentimes been slurred - - - it has been short, but not sweet; brief, but not fervent. Communion with Christ has been forgotten. Instead of a heavenly mind, there have been carnal cares, worldly vanities and thoughts of evil. Instead of service, there has been disobedience; instead of fervency, lukewarmness; instead of patience, petulance; instead of faith, confidence in an arm of flesh; and as a soldier of the cross there has been cowardice, disobedience, and desertion, to a very shameful degree." "Thou hast dealt treacherously." Treachery to Jesus! what words shall be used in denouncing it? Words little avail: let our penitent thoughts execrate the sin which is so surely in us. Treacherous to Thy wounds, O Jesus! Forgive us, and let us not sin again! How shameful to be treacherous to Him who never forgets us, but who this day stands with our names engraven on His breastplate before the eternal throne.



- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Greetings from Saeed

For two years, this blog has been following the case of Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-born American citizen, and Christian pastor, who has been incarcerated in two Iranian prisons under nearly Hellish circumstances.  God has upheld our brother, although the Obama State Department has done little to secure his release.  (Previous reports are listed below.) Now, courtesy of the American Center for Law & Justice, comes Saeed's own Christmas greeting to those of us who are free.  Pray for this man and this family; and, in the words of Shakespeare, "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now."

Saeed in happier times


Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
Merry Christmas!

These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.

These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.

Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.

Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.

Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.

The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!

So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.

 Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ


See also:
ISIS Threatening Saeed's Life  
Greetings from Saeed
Saeed speaks 
Saeed in Danger; Trump Speaks Out  
Urgent Update: Saeed Abedini
Happy Birthday, Pastor Saeed 
Iranians Reject Saeed's Appeal 
Iran: 8 years in prison for American pastor

Monday, December 15, 2014

ISIS: The Care and Feeding of Female Slaves

This month, the Muslim faction calling itself ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria, or simply The Islamic State) contributed to the world's understanding of the "religion" of Mohammedanism by publishing a pamphlet giving helpful tips on the care of female captives and slaves.  ISIS is, of course, the world's leading authority on this subject, having kidnapped, raped, and enslaved more women in Africa and the Middle East than any other group: usually Christian women, the younger the better.  Those who thought that ISIS was only interested in murder and torture owe the group a big apology: they're also experts in sexual slavery, and have their own "Research Department" and publishing house.

The pamphlet, dated Muharram 1436 (October/November 2014) and printed by ISIS, is titled Su'al wa-Jawab fi al-Sabi wa-Riqab ("Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves").  Here, courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), are some of the courtesies to be extended to the young ladies these  Muslims press into service.

 ISIS "soldier" & his prize

"Question 1: What is al-sabi?
"Al-Sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war, Jews or Christians] who has been captured by Muslims."

"Question 2: What makes al-sabi permissible?
"What makes al-sabi permissible [i.e., what makes it permissible to take such a woman captive] is [her] unbelief. Unbelieving [women] who were captured and brought into the abode of Islam are permissible to us, after the imam distributes them [among us]."

"Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?
"There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women [who are characterized by] original unbelief [kufr asli], such as the kitabiyat [women from among the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians] and polytheists. However, [the scholars] are disputed over [the issue of] capturing apostate women. The consensus leans towards forbidding it, though some people of knowledge think it permissible. We [ISIS] lean towards accepting the consensus…"


"Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?
"It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: '[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6]'..."

"Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?
"If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, is she isn't, her uterus must be purified [first]…"

"Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?
"It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of [as long as that doesn't cause the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage."

"Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?
"It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn't reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse."

deceased ISIS captive

"Question 17: What is al-'azl?
"Al-'azl is refraining from ejaculating on a woman's pudendum [i.e. coitus interruptus]."

"Question 18: May a man use the al-'azl [technique] with his female slave?
"A man is allowed [to use] al-'azl during intercourse with his female slave with or without her consent."

Question 20: What is the ruling regarding a female slave who runs away from her master?
"A male or female slave's running away [from their master] is among the gravest of sins…"

I have not included the questions regarding kind and humane treatment of captives and slaves, because there aren't any.  Remember, this is Islam we're talking about.  I have also omitted, for reasons of space, questions regarding such matters as the proper dress for slaves.

Never mind the organization calling itself ISIS; this is Islam, pure (?) and simple.  It is the most barbaric "religion" in human history.

See also:

ISIS: Enslaving, having sex with 'unbelieving' women, girls is OK  (CNN)

ISIS GUIDE TO FEMALE SLAVES PERMITS PEDOPHILIA, RAPE, BEATINGS IN NAME OF ALLAH (Breitbart)

ISIS Reportedly Releases Guide On How To Treat Sex Slaves (Huffington Post)

ISIS releases horrifying sex slave pamphlet, justifies child rape  (RT.com)

Our faith condones raping underage slaves: ISIS publishes shocking guidebook telling fighters how to buy, sell and abuse captured women  (Daily Mail)


The pamphlet

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Two Gods" in the Bible?

It is often said, by people who really should know better, that the Bible contains two completely different images of God, and that these are found in the Old and New Testaments - - - and that they're utterly contradictory.  Whether spoken by a ditch digger or a professional theologian, this cliché goes as follows: "In the Old Testament, God was angry and judgmental and bloodthirsty and cruel; in the New Testament, He's gentle and loving and forgiving."  You've probably heard this statement many times - - - and maybe even accepted it, because, at first glance, it seems to make sense.  But truth is not always obvious at first glance.

As a matter of fact, not only is this cliché false, but its exact opposite is true.  Different aspects of God's character are revealed in the Old and New Testament: that much is true, although the various aspects can be seen both places.  But if you want to see the patience and longsuffering and love of God, you need to look at the Old Testament: and if you want get a glimpse of His fury and wrath, you go to the New Testament.


The above picture, from Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, is probably the most well-known image of God the Father ever produced.  Does He look merciful and happy and sweet?  No, He looks like he's about to slug somebody.  Not exactly the kind of God you want to know on a personal basis.  But that's the image people have.  And they associate this God with some very unpleasant characteristics.  This, in the popular mind, is the "Old Testament God:" the One Who chased Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, the One Who burned Sodom and Gomorrah, the One who sent out all those cranky, screaming prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel.   And, worst of all, He's the One Who laid down all those horrible Laws and regulations, so nobody could have any fun. He is, in the popular mind - - - let's be honest - - - a brute and a tyrant.  I emphasize that this is the popular perception; it is not what the Bible says.

"That's a God of hate," people say.  But when they come to the New Testament - - - not reading it, but dimly recalling what they've heard about it - - - they heave a sigh of relief.   That mean Old Testament God is suddenly gone!  Now there's a Baby in a manger, and angels singing in the skies, and Jesus forgiving sinners and telling us to consider the lilies.  That's a much more pleasant image!  If the God of the Old Testament was a bully, this God of the New Testament is (let's be honest again) a pushover!


Well ... that is, to put it mildly, a very superficial understanding of the Bible.  The fact that it is promoted and promulgated by some "theologians," who make their living with half-baked presuppositions, means nothing.  Just for novelty's sake, let's look at how God really acted in the Old Testament.

In the very beginning, when He created Adam and Eve, He placed them in a perfect environment: no diseases, no natural pestilences, no aging .... no death.  They even had perfect bodies. He gave them complete dominion and freedom.  Are these the acts of a loving Father, or a cruel tyrant?  And, like any loving Father, He sought to protect them, by warning them about the only thing in the Garden that could ruin things: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16-17).  Why was such a warning necessary?  Because, in addition to all His other gifts, He had given them free will: they could choose to do what they wanted - - - even if it displeased Him.  So, naturally, they did violate His single, simple warning, and (this cliché is unavoidable) the rest is history.  But even then, God didn't kill them or torture them: He simply allowed nature, which by now was fallen, to take its course.  A tyrant?  A puppet master?  Hardly.  Rather a God Who sought to create a universe, and fill it with goodness and love.

Generations later, He called out Abraham, from his homeland, and promised to make him the father of nations.  And from that promise came Israel, God's chosen nation, God's only nation on this earth, "the apple of his eye" (Zechariah 2:7, 8).  And He gave Israel His Law, to guide and protect them ... and the people of Israel began to break God's Law as soon as they received it.  As the generations progressed, they did everything from worshiping a golden calf, to "sacred" prostitution, to actually sacrificing their children, their babies, to idols.


And what did God, this Old Testament "tyrant," do?  He forgave them, and sent them prophets to remind them of their place in His heart.  Sometimes, He disciplined the nation, by allowing the Babylonian Captivity and such things.  But these were actions which the Israelites had brought upon themselves ... and God continued to forgive them, and give them another chance, and another chance, and another after that .....
 ...
Everyone talks of Sodom and Gomorrah, but who remembers Ninevah?  In the Book of Jonah, God warned that He would destroy the city in 40 days: no ifs, ands, or buts.  But when the people repented, God changed His mind, and spared them.  
 ...
If there is a single characteristic that marks the God of the Old Testament, apart from His holiness and power, I think it's His longsuffering.  His patience.  His willingness to forgive.  
..
But when we come to the New Testament, we see a different aspect of God's character and nature.  Yes, of course there's forgiveness; as I said earlier, God's various attributes can be seen in both Testaments.  Jesus Christ was the only Man Who ever walked this earth Who had the authority and power to forgive sins, and He forgave them willingly; He even wept over those who would not come to Him for forgiveness (Matthew 23:37).  But when it came time  for God, after all the centuries, to finally reveal His unbridled, incomprehensible wrath ... it was revealed in the New Testament.  
...
Because it was in the New Testament that God poured out all His hatred of sin, His unwillingness to abide sin, His perfect holy fury .... and He poured it all out on Jesus Christ, His only Son, the only sinless Man since the fall of Adam.  If you want to see the wrath of God (and I pray you never do), you don't look at the Old Testament: you look at Calvary, where Jesus Christ took all the wrath and fury of God Almighty .... so that we wouldn't have to.  If we receive Him according to John 1:12, we have nothing to fear. 
  ...
And if we study the Bible carefully, we won't believe in the silly, superficial cliché of the "two Gods in the two Testaments."
 ... 
What a wonderful God!  What a wonderful Saviour!


Monday, December 8, 2014

THE LAST STRAW: OBAMA DAMNS AMERICA

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)

For about the first 200 years of America's existence, Almighty God blessed the United States as He has blessed few nations in human history.  This was not because of any inherent goodness or "godliness" on America's part: Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing (Isaiah 40:15).  It was because, in God's perfect plan for human history, America would be the country that, more than any other, assisted in the restoration of Israel in 1948, when President Harry Truman recognized the new state at the moment of its creation.  Unique among all the nations of the earth, Israel had been and would be God's nation. For decades afterward, America was Israel's staunchest ally in the world, and although other nations supported Israel, America was the only superpower to do so.  

That began to change sometime in the late twentieth century.  As the Philistines, better known as the Palestinians, began to demand their own state (a state which had never existed in the past), weak and vacillating American administrations, both Democrat and Republican, attempted to play both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  This "tilt" toward the Palestinians began under Jimmy Carter, accelerated under George H.W. Bush, and moved even faster under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

But, in all the intrigue and political vacillation on the part of the various American administrations, America always paid lip service to Israel, and voted on her behalf in the United Nations.  Even the current incumbent kept up the hypocritical facade of "support for Israel" during the early years of his administration, even while working practically to weaken her, and embolden her enemies. Obama's actions have been discussed several times in this forum, such as herehere, and here, inter al.


But now President Haman is doing something that has never been done before: he is publicly going on record against Israel, by threatening sanctions against her.  America has never placed sanctions on Israel before.  By this action, Obama is affixing America's name to the list of Israel's enemies.

He is doing this because Israel is continuing to pursue construction projects in Jerusalem, contrary to the wishes of the Palestinians, all Muslims, and the Roman Catholic Church.  At the same time, he is considering lightening existing sanctions against Iran.

Although the prostitute news media has attempted to downplay this story, the details will be found in the news links below.  The "mainline" Christian denominations, such as the Episcopal Church, the United Presbyterian Church, and the United Methodist Church are in favor of America breaking ties with Israel.  But facts are facts, and truth is truth: no communion of professed believers which opposes Israel has the right to be called a "Christian church."

The following video is several years old, but provides the background for Obama's latest actions.  

video


In imposing (or even considering) sanctions against Israel, this man is officially "cursing" Israel. God has already removed His hand of blessing from this nation; but in cursing Israel, America is now incurring God's curse, according to Genesis 12:1-3.  Any American Christian who sincerely sings "God Bless America" will now be asking God to violate His own word.

He won't do it.

As a lifelong patriot, I am now truly ashamed to be an American.  But I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and I will never be ashamed to be a supporter of Israel. 

The story:






Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From the kernels to the husk

All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk." (Numbers 6:4)

Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance of evil. Surely this is a lesson to the Lord's separated ones, teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude. Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured, dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more liable to presumptuous sins. Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding, temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence, but must feel that the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed. Better be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite. Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.


- - - Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Morning and Evening
 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Friendship with Jesus

You don't hear the question very often as an adult.  Adults are experienced and wary and "dignified," and we don't always say exactly what we mean, partly because we fear rejection.  But children are more forthright.  And a common question, from one child to another, after first meeting, is, "You want to be friends?" And the answer is usually "Uh-huh! Yes!"


little boys talking

As we grow older, our friendships can be formed quickly or gradually, because every individual is different, and every pair of individuals is different.  But that simple childhood question is so honest, so innocent, that it's almost haunting.  And it makes me wonder: I know Someone else Who was forthright and honest and innocent when He walked the earth - - - although He was also deeper and more quick-witted than anyone who ever lived.  What would you say if the Lord Jesus Christ asked you, "Do you want to be friends?"  Or, a slightly different question: "Are you My friend?"

It's a deep, deep question.  The Lord Jesus Christ has plenty of "acquaintances;" the churches are full of them.  Men and women who know about Him, and have an intellectual belief in Him, but have never actually pursued a level of intimate fellowship with Him: in other words, about 90% of the church members in the Western world.  (In China, or in Muslim countries, such shallow acquaintance is virtually unknown: it costs something to be a follower of Christ there).  And He certainly has many, many enemies.  In fact, unless and until you've received Jesus Christ by an act of the will, at a specific point in time (John 1:12, John 3:3-7), you're one of those enemies.  That's not my judgment; it's God's: For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Romans 5:10, written to those who have received Him). You may claim, like the philosophers, to admire Him as a Teacher; or claim, like the Muslims, that He was a great Prophet; but, until you have become personally acquainted with Him, just as you're acquainted with your neighbors and co-workers, you're not His friend; He considers you an enemy.

Who, then, are His friends?  As we've already indicated, it begins with meeting Him, by receiving Him, and being born again.  But that's just the beginning.  That's the simple part.  Anybody can be saved; but there are some very specific characteristics of being His friend.

The first step is believing Him.  Not just "believing in Him," but believing in what He says - - - which is found in His word, the Bible.  A professing Christian may scoff at parts of the Bible; but a friend of Jesus won't: he or she will believe it implicitly, even the parts that aren't easily understood. God spoke to Moses directly, but He didn't call Moses His friend:  And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend (Exodus 33:11).  But Abraham was truly God's friend.  (This doesn't mean that Abraham was a "better man" than Moses; that has nothing to do with it.  Both men were sinners, like you and me.) Speaking to Israel: But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend (Isaiah 41:8). What was so special about Abraham? God tells us very clearly, in the New Testament: in fact, it's so important that God says it three times.  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3).  And, Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Galatians 3:6).  And, the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God (James 2:23).  Was Abraham God's friend because he offered up Isaac, or because he was the father of nations?  No, although those things are inestimably important.  According to James, he was God's friend because he believed God.  Do you?  When God speaks to you in His word, not just about "theological" things, but on a very personal level, with warnings and promises and guidance, do you believe Him, or doubt Him?



girl reading Bible

Closely related to believing Jesus is obeying Him.  (I don't like this part any better than you do!)  But there's no getting around it: if we believe His words, we'll believe that He's serious when He tells us to do something (or not do something).  Obedience is not the "key" to the Christian life, but it's one of the hallmarks of the Christian life.  It's a matter of doing what Jesus wants us to do, instead of what we want to do.  And we don't need a Biblical example of this, like Abraham, because Jesus told us this directly: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you (John 15:14).  The inevitable, inescapable corollary? If we don't do what He commands, we're not His friends.  Yes, we're still saved; yes, we can still have fellowship with Him; but if we choose our desires over His commands, then friendship is off the table.  At times, He'll tell us all the same thing, like commanding us to study the word or spread the Gospel; at other times, He'll have specific, tailor-made commands for each of us: "Don't marry that man."  "Don't take that job."  "Go to this town, not that one."  And when God says these things to us, they're not "requests;" they're commands.  And if we do them, He counts us among His friends.

Does that sound unreasonable?  "I can't be Jesus' friend if I do things my own way?"  Well, it might sound unreasonable ... but I only quoted one verse.  Because, before issuing any commands to us, Jesus already counted us His friends, when He went to the cross, to be tortured to death for our sins.  That's the context I didn't mention: the passage reads, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you (John 15:13-14).  He doesn't have to prove His love or loyalty or friendship to us; He's already done it.  Now it's our turn.

And there's another element in this discussion: if Jesus is to be our Friend, then certain other people cannot and will not be our friends.  We have to make a choice.  We can't be friends with "the world:" i.e., the world system, which is totally alienated from God, and the people who are comfortable in that system.  Speaking to  to people who thought that they could have it both ways, God said,  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4). If you want to be like the people who surround you at school or in the workplace, or the people you see in movies and on television, you will not be Jesus' friend.  If you place a high priority on "fitting in" and having everyone like you, you'll not be Jesus' friend.  In fact, according to this verse, such worldly affections are actually enmity (hostility, opposition) against God.  Does that mean that a friend of Jesus can't have unsaved friends?  Well, without playing semantic games: we can surely have friendly acquaintances, and a degree of good relations, with non-Christians.  God doesn't expect us to be hermits, or to be hostile to everyone outside our own little circle.  I have many dear acquaintances who are unsaved.  They like me (although they don't understand me), and I like them.  But when a crisis comes, they usually don't come to me for comfort or help, and I don't go to them.  (There are always exceptions in extreme circumstances.) As everyone knows, it's when you're in trouble that you find out who your friends are - - - and who they're not.  A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). Jesus calls us His brethren - - - and He wants to be our Friend.


This isn't spiritual snobbery or elitism.  Any parent of a teenager (or even a younger child) will advise him or her to choose their friends carefully.  Nobody, Christian or non-Christian, wants their children "running with the wrong crowd."  And Jesus demands our complete loyalty, if we're to be His friends.

 bad girls and good girl

There are other factors, of course.  But these are some of the most important.  One of the most subtle, yet obvious verses in the Bible says:  A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly (Proverbs 18:24).  If you want someone to be your friend, you don't shun that person, or seek to avoid him: you look for opportunities to spend time together, and enjoy one another's company.  You enjoy being together. That might be part of the definition of friendship, although not the only part. Boy or girl, woman or man, a person likes being with a friend: it isn't a burden or a duty.  It's fun - - - or, many times, much more meaningful than "fun:" it's a time of sharing burdens and concerns and talking things out.  Friends laugh together, cry together, and, very often, get bored together!  But the key word is "together."



black and white friends

Does that describe the time you spend with Jesus Christ?  Do you seek out opportunities to fellowship with Him?  Do you cry with Him and laugh with him and maybe (I say it reverently) get bored together, like when you're reading a "dull" part of Scripture?  It's all part of friendship.  And if Jesus is to be your Friend, you must "show yourself friendly:" by not shunning Him, by not "putting Him off," by not sticking Him in your hip pocket until Sunday morning.  

He doesn't need your friendship, or mine; but we need His.  And He wants it. He wants it very much. After all ... hasn't Jesus already spent enough time alone, shunned and hated by the world He came to save?


Jesus sitting alone