John 13:34-35 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus loves us unconditionally, and commands us to love one another as He loves us. He came with an attitude of creating and developing relationships and of making reconciliations and restorations. He graciously embraces and loves us unconditionally, even though He knows we are sinners. He came to build trust and covenantal relationships with us. Therefore, we should aim to do the same with our fellow believers in the church.
John 15:13-15 (NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
The use of the word “friend” in this context is not referring to a platonic friend, but instead someone who truly loves the person like a covenantal partner. A covenantal partner is a person closer than a sibling, and would never think of doing something that will bring harm to the other person in the covenant. This relationship can be through a marriage covenant between a couple. It can also be a brotherly covenant between two friends, such as the one between David and Jonathan, where one always wants the best for the covenantal partner.
According to the Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the highest level of friendship contains the components of association and loyalty along with affection, as in the friendship between David and Jonathan. This kind of friendship refers to a covenantal relationship, where each person is willing to lay down his life for the other. It is a kind of friendship that is built on trust through a period of time.
Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross of Calvary. He took our filthy rags of sin and self-righteousness and gave us the gift of righteousness through His death. We can trust Him because He has shown us love and gave His life in exchange for friendship and sonship with us. We are in a covenantal relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. We are God’s friends.
We should do the same with the friendships we have created and developed in church. The genuine love and concern we have for one another while taking the time to journey together and minister to one another will attract more people and grow the Body of Christ. Let us use love and nourish the Body.
Sermon Series: CG Campaign – Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow (Part 1)
根据《圣经神学福音词典》， 最高境界的友谊包括了交往以及以爱相伴的忠诚，正如大卫和約拿单之间的友谊。 这种友谊是指一种盟约关系，双方都愿意为彼此献出自己的生命。 是一种以信任为基础日久而生的友谊。
耶稣在各各他的十字架上为我们献出了祂的生命。 祂除去了我们罪孽的污秽帕子和自义，通过衪的死给了我们公义为礼物。 我们可以信任祂，因为祂向我们展示了爱，并献出了祂的生命来换取我们建立友谊和儿子的名分。 我们通过耶稣基督的宝血进入与上帝的盟约。 我们是神的朋友。
我们应该以同样的态度对待我们在教会中创建和培养的友谊。 以真正的爱和关心彼此相待，灵程相伴，互相服伺，這将吸引更多的人，扩大基督的肢体。 让我们用爱滋养肢体。
讲章系列：细胞小组活动 – 教会通过属灵恩赐得以成长 (1)