From the President

This year I have been enjoying a daily devotional that I’ve incorporated into a portion of my quiet time in the mornings. The book is titled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and I recommend it highly. She writes from the perspective that each day Jesus is talking directly to you in the first person.

On Sept. 5, she began with this line and, remember, she’s using the image of Jesus talking to us, “I am your best friend as well as your king.” One passage Sarah selects is John 15:13-15 where Jesus talks to His disciples about His friendship with them and us. Verse 15 concludes with, “I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”

How does a person relate to another living being who is both a king and a friend? As people living in a free country, we don’t have a reference to being a subject to an all-powerful ruler who calls the shots and is clearly in control. But let’s suppose we did. How would we relate to a king?

With deference, for starters. With great respect. And probably with some fear. With tremendous humility. With the sense that the king holds the keys to our life or our death, our prosperity or our poverty — whether it be spiritual, material, physical, psychological, mental, etc. Even if he were a great friend, we would choose our words a little more carefully in his presence because, after all, he is the king. We might even need to remind ourselves, “He’s the king; we’re not.” And my guess is that we would be very grateful that we had a friendship with him.

Although most of us don’t understand the nuances of relating to a king, we have a sense that we understand friendship. But some of us, myself included, have a harder time understanding a friendship with a person we know but do not see.

I have a friend who has tried to overcome that by imagining Jesus in the flesh and creating an image of Jesus — meeting with Him, walking with Him in all circumstances, etc. My friend is a former professional golfer, so guess what? Jesus to him looks like a very wise and kind teaching pro. Jesus is not wearing a robe; He’s wearing golf attire. The word picture helps my friend more intimately relate to Jesus.

Regardless of the tools we use to help us “see” Jesus, how do we relate to a friend? We spend time with a friend. Time usually cements and deepens a friendship. We share the interior of our hearts — our deepest thoughts with Him. We take the time to know His heart as well. What’s on Jesus’ mind? What brings Him joy? How can we bring pleasure to Him by the way we live out our lives? Obedience is one way. “You are my friends, if you do what I command you” (John 12:14). If a close friend told us to do what he commanded us to do, we might take offense. But not if he were also our king.

As I’ve thought about Jesus as king and friend, I keep coming back to the image of the mighty lion, Aslan, the Christ figure in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. A lion (although I’ve certainly never met one like this in a zoo or on a trip to Africa) could be an enormous kitten, all fluffy and furry. When we felt the need for emotional support, we could bury our head in his mane and be comforted by his kind words and loving strength. But he is also the mighty king of the jungle with fangs and claws and a horrendous roar. And when we stand in his presence, we are awestruck.

Jesus is our Lord and friend. No question about it. The Bible tells us He’s both. Now we just need to walk with Him and get to know both aspects of our Savior. And, in Young Life, that’s what we’re helping kids to understand as we draw closer to Jesus ourselves.