Names of Jesus Week Sixteen, Day Two

The Name
Jesus is not only Lord and Master but the greatest of all friends, who willingly proved his friendship by his death on the cross. By this costly gesture he has won the friendship of millions of men and women from every tongue and tribe and nation. When you pray to Jesus your Friend, you are praying to the One who loved you before you were loveable and who links you together with his many friends throughout the world.

Key Scripture
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:13

***

Tuesday
Praying the Name

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 18:24

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"

"No," they answered.

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" John 21:4 - 7

Reflect On: Proverbs 18:24 and John 21:4 - 7.

Praise God: For being the greatest Friend you have.

Offer Thanks: For the ways you have experienced Christ's friendship in your life.

Confess: Any tendency to think of God's friendship as fickle.

Ask God: To deepen your confidence in his friendship.

It is hardly surprising, in an industry built on relationships, that greeting cards are rife with sentimental quotations extolling the virtues of friendship. My personal favorites, I confess, run in the opposite direction. Here are a few of those least likely to be inducted into the greeting card hall of fame:

"One who looks for a friend without faults will have none." (Hasidic saying)

"Friends are God's way of apologizing to us for our families." (Anonymous)

"If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them." (Teresa of Avila)

You may have heard this last one. But did you know that this quip was directed not at a human companion but at the Lord himself? It was the quick retort of Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth-century nun, who uttered it right after being dumped in the mud when her cart overturned during a journey she had undertaken for the Lord. I nearly laughed out loud when I heard it, appreciating both her spunk and her ability to capture the frustration we all feel when life doesn't go our way, especially when we are doing our best to serve God.

Her words made me wonder about my own response. How do I act when life seems nothing but an uphill climb? The more I considered this question, the more I began to recognize a pattern of insecurity in my relationship with Christ. When bad things happen, I tend to blame both the Lord and myself, wondering what I've done to make him angry. Here's my line of reasoning:

1. I realize that Jesus has the power to prevent bad things from happening.
2. So why doesn't he do a better job of protecting me?
3. If life is difficult, maybe it's because he doesn't really love me.
4. How could he love me when I do the things I do?
5. No doubt I am getting exactly what I deserve.

This kind of thinking, reasonable as it may seem in light of God's power and my obvious defects and failings, is distorted because it directly contradicts Scripture. Furthermore, it makes the Lord seem as though he has an irritable temperament, as though he is someone I need to tiptoe around lest I offend him. But that is so far from the Jesus revealed in the New Testament, so far from the One who proved his friendship not merely with words but by allowing himself to be tortured and put to death in my place. Is that the kind of friend who's going to turn away from me when I fail to do things perfectly?

Whether you are inclined to blame God or yourself for life's difficulties, join me today in praying for the grace to get one thing straight. It's what Teresa of Avila seemed to know despite her circumstances. The Lord of the universe is also our Friend. Let us rise each morning and go to bed each evening thanking and praising our great Friend, affirming the love he has already shown in such a marvelous way. 

For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.