When it comes to a year-end summary, does the summary include your relationship with Jesus?
Maybe we would examine our financial situation, look at our relationships with our friends or our partner, and also our family life. We, however, perhaps need to take stock and reflect on our relationship with Jesus.
How has our relationship with God been in the past year? Did we serve God out of fear and trembling or did we, out of weariness, follow all kinds of rituals and taboos to appease God?
What in your eyes is your "God", determines how you treat him and also what your faith life's attitude is and what your habits are.
If God is prone to anger and holy according to your thinking, you can only often live in fear and terror, afraid to sin against God who might eradicate you. Obviously, nobody deems the God whom he serves and worships as being temperamental, though the Jewish priests deliberately played up his "unreasonable changes of mood". God reveals his image through his only begotten son Jesus.
In the eyes of Jesus, God is a father. He says, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)
In his eyes, God not only shows fatherly love, but is also loyal and will not deceive us.
He is more of a friend. He spoke with Moses like a friend. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." (Exodus 33:11)
How do we talk with our friends? We feel comfortable and no pressure with our friends because we are not worried about being punished from "putting our foot in our mouth".
Jesus is like a friend in the four Gospels: instead of placing himself above others, he is the friend of his disciples, presenting an image of a normal person who can be condemned, criticized, demanded of, and even betrayed by them. He states, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)
Jesus calls us his friends. What a kind name! However very often we forget this friend and put our stern Jesus high above over others on our families' altar.
When Lazarus was sick and his sisters were sad, his sister Mary sent word to Jesus. "Lord, the one you love is sick." Although the Jews tried to stone Jesus and the disciples dissuaded him from going to Bethany, he insisted on going there because Jesus was concerned with his friend Lazarus.
Jesus is a loyal friend who does not forsake his friends. Fearless of danger or difficulty, he was willing to go and heal his friend just as he was willing to be crucified for us, out of loyalty and love, not giving up on his friends.
Maybe in the past year, many of your friends are from WeChat Moments, similar to Facebook's Timeline or Twitter's News Feed. They have left comments to greet you, clicked likes to encourage you, and published photos to say that they are there. But you were unable to say anything to each other when sitting face to face.
Not only a friend in our Moments, Jesus is also our close friend who accompanies us everywhere because he is loyal to our friendship. Faithful to the promises he gives to us, he was crucified and saved us from "the valley of the shadow of death".
"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." (John 15:15)
We are not Jesus' lowly servants who are afraid to offend him, nor are we Jesus' soldiers who, every day, vehemently pledge to wipe out those who hinder the spread of the gospel. We are not Jesus' master who is able to order him to do for us, nor are we his customers who trade good works for his grace.
We are Jesus' friends. He is the one who tells us everything, seized the opportunity, and took on the cross for us.
In the coming new year, let's make friends with Jesus again and conduct ourselves according to all the truth he received from God and gave to us. Let's become new creatures because of Jesus, this friend.
- Translated by Karen Luo