I had the unfortunate experience of coming across a blog post that articulated, in the most liberal terms conceivable, the concept of Jesus as a friend of sinners. I suppose the most unfortunate part of the experience was catching a whiff of the poison dripping from the words directed at Christians who find the concept of “hanging out with sinners” as they indulge in sin a little too ungodly for God.
God loves all of us individually. There’s little doubt about that from Scripture. But that doesn’t mean that God stands idly by as people do evil, deflecting truthful accusations of those evil acts as judgmental. On the contrary.
The primary aim of the blog post was to demonstrate that Jesus really is, in the most intuitive sense of the phrase, a friend of sinners. To this end, the only verse in Scripture that deals with Jesus describing who gets to be friends with Him was summarily excluded. Had it been examined, it would have destroyed the thesis that Jesus would gladly hang out with drunkards at bars, probably buying a few rounds Himself.
From the Gospel of John:
John 15:14-15 – You are my friends if you do what I command. 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.
Jesus loves us unconditionally, but His standard for friendship is much higher. He requires our obedience. This is an especially important lesson given how loathe we are to obey anything but our own desires. It is no wonder that those of a more liberal persuasion would want to reduce the friendship of Christ to the least demanding form one could imagine, but that would be something entirely different than what Jesus Himself declares.
And when it comes to determining what it takes to be Jesus’ friend, I’d much rather take Jesus at His word, than the empty rhetoric of someone else.