"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15, NIV).
In the days of Jesus, the disciples understood a certain code of decorum when it came to leaders and followers, teachers and students, masters and servants. One was clearly higher than the other, a line was drawn in the sand, and there was no crossing that line. In the religious arena, this accepted cultural truth was made painfully clear and plain to see in the actions and interactions of the Pharisees, the religious ruling class. There was a clear line of demarcation between themselves and those they made sure to know were 'beneath' them. Jesus, however, turned this tradition, as He had with many others, upside down and inside out. Jesus had made it clear that He had come to serve, not to be served. He had even taken off the robe of a teacher and had born the towel of a servant, washing the feet of His disciples, showing them how He had valued each of them. Within the heart of each of the twelve was found a search for significance, a fight for identity, or a defined quest for purpose.
His heart for those that chose to follow Him went beyond the cultural norms of the day. His words spoke to them more than information, but of transformation. He spoke to their value. He spoke to the core of who they were. He spoke to their potential and released within them the 'OK' to pursue the calling and purpose given them by God. Jesus showed the intimacy side of a relationship with God. It was no longer about ceremony and obligation, as had been modeled in their time. It was about restoration, relationship and responsibility. He had come to restore what was lost, engage in relationship with those who would receive the love of God, and turn to them the responsibility of learning and knowing what God had in store for them.
There is much intimidation when it comes to the idea of relationship with God. So many are overwhelmed by the perceived notion that it is all about the rules & requirements, the do's & don't's, the can's and cannot's. Relationship with Jesus is just that. it is a relationship. He never left the incredible, 'words can't describe,' amazing, awesomeness of Heaven just to come and wield His power. He already had power and was already in control . He came because of you. He came to come and restore what had been broken inside of you. Since the day you were born you have been on a quest for significance and purpose. Most every action you pursue, word you speak, or dream you dream has something to do with discovering the reason for which you exist.
Jesus came so that He could call you 'friend.' Christianity, though it has been badly abused and stereotyped because of bad examples, is NOT about the ceremony and obligations of religion, but rather about the restoration and responsibility of relationship. There are principles God, through Jesus, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has established, but not for the purpose of checking off a list of prerequisites to earn yourself out of punishment and into reward. The precepts of the Word of God are so that you are well-equipped to live this life in the full purpose for which you were created, uninhibited by every tactic and scheme that has been devised for your undoing.
He has called you 'friend,' because His desire is to see you become the most successful individual possible, so that you can become part of the greater 'body of believers' that showcases the life-changing love of God that Jesus came to live. Don't allow the concept of a relationship with God intimidate you from actually having one. He has called you 'friend.' He is a relationship-oriented God. He knows who you are, where you've been, what you've done, and still loves you the same with no regrets. Spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Give Him the total access to every part of who you are. You can trust Him. Be vulnerable. It's ok. He's a friend like you've never known.