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From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:
John 15:15 (NLT) – I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
I grew up watching TV shows like “Gunsmoke”, “Palladin”, “Cheyenne”, “The Lawman” and other rough-and-tumble shows. They were mostly all cowboy shows, and every single one of the heroes, with perhaps the exception of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, was a loner. That was especially true of Richard Boone in the show, Palladin. The theme song even trumpeted one of his virtues as being tough enough that he needed no one and he rode all alone. No one seemed to know where he came from, where he was going, or anything else about him, except that he was a bounty hunter who tracked down the bad guys. And Richard Boone made him seem tough!
Those kinds of shows, and commercials about the Marlboro man, who was also a loner, made me want to be like them. I wanted to be the rock, the island – just like Simon and Garfunkle sang about. It was, I’m not ashamed to say, kind of an ideal for the American male, and when I was young, I bought into it hook, line and sinker. I prided myself on not needing anyone. Jeremiah Johnson was a hero to me…and I actually thought several times about heading off to the high country with nothing but a backpack and high powered rifle to live off the land…alone.
How foolish I was! How naive! Men (or women for that matter) aren’t meant to be like a cold iceberg that drifts through life, separated from the rest of humanity. Isn’t that part of what was wrong with the Pharisee and priest who passed the injured man before the Samaritan stopped to help? They didn’t need anyone…they didn’t want to be bothered by anyone.
It is interesting that it was right before Jesus was to die that he made the statement in John 15:15 to his followers. They were no longer to be servants. They were to be friends. Why did he not tell them that long before? Surely he knew that they would be his friends even before he chose them. I think it was because he was in need. In need of friends. As Harvey Cox, in When Jesus Came to Harvard put it: “He was fully human, and human beings need other human beings, not just as disciples but also as friends, which is what Jesus told his own followers at the Last Supper that he wanted them to be. The point is clear. Living a moral life is not a solo flight.”
Have you been trying to be He-man or Super-woman in your spiritual walk? Trying to do it by yourself? You can’t. You need friends. Jesus did. And he wants to call you “friend”, too. I need you. And you need me. We all need one another if we will be able to live a moral life. We need the Spirit, but we also need people to encourage us, to hold us accountable, to lift us up when we fall down. Are you being that kind of friend?
PRAYER: Jesus, we need You…and we need one another. Keep us from the temptation to try to fly solo! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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