The Christmas season is always a time of reflection and a time for remembering all of our family and friends. “Philos” is the Greek word for friend and it means someone dearly loved; someone dearly prized in a personal and intimate way, a trusted confident, held dear, in a close bond of personal affection. A friend of God was so special that God only spoke of and named two – Moses and Abraham. (Exodus 33:11, James 2:23). For Jesus, obedience to love is a requirement for His friendship and this call of friendship it’s not a simple warm and fuzzy feeling but a call to obedience – a high call to friendship is what Jesus commands, so it’s not surprising that God only names two friends.
As I reflect in this Christmas season and the events of the past year, especially in America and around the world, I was searching for what was missing. At first, the word “civility” came to mind and that would be true, and then the words “honor” and “respect” came to mind and both those words are true. America has been deficit in civility, honor, and respect for a very long time. It reflects in the events of the past year, the hostile interactions among people, perhaps even in our own families, individually and among each other. But the thing that is missing runs much deeper than civility, honor, or respect, those are merely the symptoms. What’s missing is love – genuine and authentic love and since God is love it can only be concluded that what is missing is God and the friendship of His love – God’s life-giving love.
Recently, I ran across this study and cannot claim it as my own but it states this perfectly. The reason Christmas is a time of reflection and a time for remembering all of our family and friends is because it is the time that God sent his one and only Son into the world to bring us all this life giving love. In the gospel of John, John the beloved disciple tells us that God is the source of all love (4:7-8); God models what genuine love is (4:9-10); and God commands us to love each other (4:11-12). We move from the assertion that God is love to the command that we are to love each other. We can trace the relationship between God’s love and human love, and show how human love flows from God’s own love. God is the source of love. Like the electricity running through electrical wires, love comes from God to us, and then flows through us to others in the community. When John exhorts his readers, let us love one another, he is encouraging them to allow God’s love to flow through them. For because God is love, love must characterize those who claim to be born of God or to know God (John 4:7, 3:10, 14, 4:20-21). Those who claim to be doing the will of God and reflecting God’s activity in the world will be known by the love they manifest for God and for each other.
What do you think? Who do you know among your circle of friends expressing this type of love? For me, this love was clearly expressed in Miss Bertie Mae Dalton. Miss Bertie Mae went home on July 7, 2016, this past year, but Miss Bertie Mae was a friend of mine. And I am thinking of her this Christmas season and she is dearly missed. She became a fast friend simply by reflecting the obedience and love of God as it showed up brightly in the character of her life. I am sure that Jesus now calls Miss Bertie Mae his friend. I know I do. Merry Christmas ~ (John 3:16)