One of the most revolutionary things Jesus said is also one of the most easily overlooked: “I have called you friends.” That the King of Heaven desires real and true friendship with us is as astonishing as it is outlandish. John the Baptist doesn’t grasp it; he cannot recognize Jesus (John 1:10) without a sign from God (1:33), and even then, he misunderstands him. This is how radical Jesus’ invitation to friendship is—his own cousin thinks he doesn’t deserve to be Jesus’ slave and all Jesus wants is to befriend him. Astounding!
Everything God wants for and from us is love, and one of the most beautiful experiences of love is friendship. Friendship—the real thing—is a life-changing gift. And it’s not one that happens fast or easily. As Aristotle said, “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.” Friendship, with God and with each other, is on the Father’s heart for Wonderful Mercy this year. In a culture that divides and demonizes, God is inviting us to build friendships with people different than ourselves as we go deeper in our friendship with Him.