Servant or Friend or Both?

Claire L. Eva, Assistant Director, General Conference Stewardship Ministries

Summary: If we have learned anything from Jesus, we know that His service was an “inside job.” We cannot put on true servanthood; it must come from the heart. He lived His declaration, “I have not come to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28). And as His friends, asks us to join Him in that life.

Instead of servants

Does Jesus consider us servants or friends? The writers of the New Testament have said it countless times and in a variety of ways—we are Christ’s servants. We dream of Jesus affirming us with His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21). And we embrace our role as servant when we reflect on Jesus’ words, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me’” (Mt 25:40, Message). Scripture unquestionably upholds the reality that we are His servants.

But there is one passage that “trips me up” on the question of friend or servant, and it is found in John 15. There, Jesus says, “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” (Jn 15:14-15).

In these words, Jesus is declaring a friendship and close partnership that He has not uttered up to this time. He continues, speaking in the most intimate language—“Remain in me, and I will remain in you—If you remain in me you will bear much fruit—You are my friends if you do what I tell you—Remain in my love!” (Jn 15)

An “inside job

If we have learned anything from Jesus, we know that His service was an “inside job.” We cannot “put on” true servanthood; it must come from the heart. Christ abhorred anything cosmetic—“man looks on the outside, but God looks at the heart.” He lived His declaration, “I have not come to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28). And as His friends, He asks us to join Him in that life. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).

A friend is willing to serve because of the love Jesus has placed in his heart. Friend or servant or both? We serve with Christ and for Him. Through Him, we serve as He served. And because He has taken us into His confidence and told us everything the Father revealed to Him, He asks us to serve, not merely as a servant, but as His friend.

A word to our readers

Dear friends, I must take a moment to tell you, this is my last editorial as editor of Dynamic Steward. I have been challenged with a chronic illness and need to lessen my responsibilities. I will miss my work with the journal and sharing with you. Because He is in us, may we serve Him from this moment on, in greater ways than we could ever imagine. This is my prayer and dream for us all.

Media Block Image Alt

October–December, 2006

Service