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Servants or Friends?

On Sunday I talked about surrendering the illusion that we are psychic and that we know the minds of others, as well as giving up thinking others can read our minds.

In Sunday’s Gospel lesson, Jesus seemed to suggest that we can come to a place of spiritual maturity where we no longer need to be psychic. “I don’t call you servants any longer,” he said, “because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead I call you friends because everything I have heard from God I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

It is as though there was a progression: “I no longer call you servants.” At some point we simply did what was right because that was what we were told to do. Eventually, we are to reach a level of maturity where we understand and know what is God’s will and way, and so we do it out of that place of covenant rather than simply out of a place of command.

There was a time when our kids were young when I was happy if they simply did what they were told, even if they had no understanding of why. It was almost always for their own good, but four-year-olds can’t understand nutrition and the need for strong bones. They just know cookies taste better than cabbage. Today, though, they have to choose for themselves which they will eat. If they are like their father they still will choose cookies over cabbage too often, but at least now they understand.

Spiritually, most of us know much better than we do. We are not simply servants of God; we are daughters and sons. If only knowing that magically changed our behavior. We now KNOW God’s will for how we live, but, obviously, knowing is not enough. Somehow I suspect Jesus knew that was true because, despite calling us friends and not servants, the passage concludes with him saying, “I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.” Just in case we missed his point about the will and way of God.

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