Identity: friend of Jesus

March 25, 2024
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by Shannon Caughey

A coach shared with me recently about his interaction with his players during a tightly-contested game. This is a coach who is clearly respected by his players. They understand his authority and respond to his direction. This coach also cares about his players and takes a genuine interest in them beyond the context of sports. With the game on the line, the coach called a time-out and huddled up with his players. Rather than telling them what to do, he looked them in the eyes and said, “Give me your perspective on what play we should run.” He listened as the players gave their input and responded, “Sounds great! Let’s run that play and win this game.” His players then successfully executed the play.

This in-game moment offers a glimpse of the relational reality between the coach and his players. The players recognize the coach’s authority over them. They simultaneously know that their coach views them not merely as those under his leadership. He sees them as friends. And this elevates the desire of the players to do all their coach asks of them.

Did you know that the same is true when it comes to our King and Lord, Jesus Christ? Here is what he says in John 15:15 to those who follow him: “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.”

In this series of devotions, we’re exploring our true identity when our faith is in Jesus Christ. The deeper the understanding of who we are in Christ, the greater the impact on how we coach and live. According to Jesus, another significant dimension of our identity is that we are his friends.

To put into context just how amazing this is: In the Old Testament, we find only two instances in which someone is called a “friend of God.” Abraham is identified as God’s friend (2 Chronicles 20:7), as is Moses (Exodus 33:11). Now this has completely changed with the coming of Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus wants each of us to know him as friend. And he makes this possible through his sacrificial work on our behalf. When we surrender in faith to Christ, he rescues us from what we deserve for our sin and reconciles us to God.

Here are two ways our identity as friends of Jesus impacts how we coach and live:

1. We have deep confidence that Jesus will give us understanding and guidance.

The Bible is clear that it is our privilege and joy to serve the Lord. But we are not merely servants. We are Jesus’ friends. As Jesus lays out in John 15:15, one of the biggest differences between being only a servant and being considered a friend is the level of communication. Jesus doesn’t just give us a “To Do” list. He wants us to understand his Father’s business and his Father’s heart. Jesus shares with us the purposes behind his instructions and guides us in living according to his character and plan. This doesn’t mean we’ll always know the “why” for everything that happens. However, we can trust that in his perfect wisdom, Jesus will give us the understanding and guidance we need for the moment. And the reason we can be deeply confident in this is because we are Jesus’ friends.

2. We have even greater motivation to coach and live for Christ.

It’s a wonderful feeling when someone we know introduces us to others by saying, “This is my good friend!” If that same person then asked us something of us, we would be eager to do what they requested. Jesus says of you and me, “This is my good friend!” Because this is true, it transforms our motivation to think, speak, act, and interact as he directs us to do. We follow him not out of an “I’m supposed to” motivation but out of an “I’m eager to” motivation. We gladly coach and live for Christ because he is not only our Lord and King. He is our friend.

Coach, if you’ve placed your faith in Jesus, this is who you are: Jesus’ friend. He loves you and he’s drawn you to himself. Christ’s desire for you is not merely that you would be his servant. Jesus calls you his friend. Live and coach out of the confidence and motivation this amazing truth about your identity gives you.

For reflection: How does knowing that you are Jesus’ friend change your perspective on or approach to coaching? Talk with the Lord about this. Ask him to enable you to coach more fully out of your true identity in Christ.



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