Guest Post by Rev. Brian Wilkie
What a Friend we have in Jesus!”
Joseph Scrivens, of Port Hope, Upper Canada (Ontario) has inspired generations with this truth. Jesus said, (John 15:13–16) “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 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.” His disciples are his friends. He calls Moses his friend (Ex 33:11), he is a friend to Abraham (Is 41:8).
We pray in the name of our friend, Jesus, and when faced with trouble and danger we can often hear people praying in ‘the powerful name of Jesus.’ When was the last time you prayed in ‘the friendly name of Jesus?’
We are in a spiritual battle, so it may seem better to think in terms of power when we face enmity, attack and opposition: yet Jesus takes another path—in the face of sin, opposition, betrayal and death he chooses reconciliation, and that at great cost to himself. Romans 5:8 (NIV84): “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus urges us to pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us. We are warriors against war, enemies of enmity. Our ‘weapon’ in such a struggle is friendship—which is the greatest threat to war, and the death of enmity. Therefore when we come against the blasphemy of Goliath in the name of the Lord, it is not even with a sling and stones that we are armed, but with the friendly name of Jesus. We are no longer opposed to our enemies, but to enmity itself, therefore we destroy the war that divides us in the friendly name of Jesus.
Make no mistake—martyrs, fully faithful to their vocation of reconciliation, have suffered and died in the friendly name. In our generation 20 Christians in orange jumpsuits were beheaded on camera by those who opposed them. But one other man was executed in ordinary clothes—one of their persecutors, seeing their steadfast faith and love was, in that instant, reconciled to them and to their Lord and Saviour, and so was martyred with them. The friendly name of Jesus granted him eternal life, when the powerful grip of divine friendship was revealed in their suffering. The twenty in orange suits*, will eternally rejoice to have gained him as a friend, even at such a cost.
It is the friendly name of Jesus that is the most powerful name—above every name. Do not curse in that Name. Do not come against people in that name. Come against spiritual blindness, hatred and bigotry, come against the principalities and powers that hold the lost in thrall to bitterness and resentment, come against fear the drives the dying to strike out against their rescuers.
Coming in the Friendly name of Jesus will change, for you, every dynamic of every conflict. Neither defensive nor aggressive, in humility you will bless, you will listen, you will respond rather than react. God, your friend, will help you and strengthen you so that your love will endure even a cross, as His did.
Simply to remain in love with your enemy is a great victory of holiness, a cause for celebration in the heavens. If that is all that is accomplished—that you remained faithful through conflict, well enough. Yet the friendly name of Jesus has such power that we can truly hope that our opponents will receive the grace we offer and they, even they, will become friends of the Friendly Name.
*In my imagination, I see these 21 entering their eternal joy, fully expecting the white robes in which all the resurrected saints are clothed, but The Lord himself interrupts the angelic tailors and insists that as testimony to their faithfulness, these martyrs shall be eternally clothed in brightest orange.