Jesus calls us “friend.” But, we must never forget that He is LORD. Never mistake familiarity for license.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead [His Godhood], descended from David [His Kingship]. 2 Timothy 2:8
We live in a tension between Jesus being our friend and Him being our Lord. He is our Lord, yet He has forgiven us. He is our Judge, yet He has compassion on us. He loves us, yet He does not tolerate wrong-doing (because it hurts us). How shall we live? In love? In fear? Let us consider Susan and Mr. Beaver’s conversation about Aslan (the Lion who represents Jesus) in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” page 80:
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
To me, the best definition of the fear of God in the NT is respect. We need not fear His retribution, but we respect Him as our God and Lord. 1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We are to allow His love to wash through us, surround us, and transform us, shaping us into the image of Christ.
On the other hand, there are people who take Christ’s forgiveness for permission to do as they please. They have missed the most important part. When the Spirit of God is leading our lives, we will be like Jesus. Our desires, plans, and even our wishes are guided by Him. Our own personal feelings always take a backseat to His will. I call it “the higher desire;” Robin calls it “the want-to to want to.” The previous verse explains, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” Walking in step with the Spirit daily frees us from the fear of judgment; He forms, conforms, and transforms us into the image of His Son*. To walk our own way–even after praying “the salvation prayer”–is to walk in darkness and “we do not even know what makes us stumble” (Proverbs 4:19).
Jesus may be our friend, but He is not One with which we can argue, ignore, or contradict without consequences. It’s not that He has to do anything; when we step off the path, we get hurt: thorns, wild animals, cliffs, raging rivers, etc. Jesus wants only the best for us. The path may not be “safe,” but Jesus will keep us to the end of the trail. If we walk with Him, we know that the trail ends at His throne.
Abba, I know that sometimes You deliver us from the fire and our faith is built; sometimes you deliver us through the fire and our faith is refined; sometimes you deliver us by the fire straight into Your arms, and our faith is perfected**. May we trust You for each and every step. Help us to fix our eyes on You, Lord. You are our only Hope. Amen.
Transforms-2 Corinthians 3:18
**Beth Moore, “Daniel Study”