Vine/Branches Servants/Friends

First thing I note here is this discourse is directed to followers of Jesus. Promises of connectedness to God through Christ are only being made to Christians here.

The promise is that our relation to Christ is the same as Christ’s relation to God and we can therefore relate to God by being in Christ and Christ being in us. That promise only stands as long as we keep Christ’s commandment. And the commandment is to love one another — again the command to love all and to love enemies is not being made here. Instead we are to love others who are likewise in Christ.

The other promise being made is that the disciples have moven from servants (slaves doulos) to friends. The difference? A servant does not know his master’s business. God has an enterprise at work in this world and his friends carry out that work as partners in it. The apprenticeship is over. Full partnership requires a Christ-like love that will lay down his own life for his friends.

This answers both my and Crystal’s concerns in an earlier posting. I claimed that a Christian could be a cultural relativist and a situational ethicist — Crystal argued for at least some absolutes in matters of morality.

This passage seems to say the absolutes are not moral laws but the work God is accomplishing in this world. The commandments from God are relative to this work and support it but not relative to our human situation. Score one for Crystal.

But we have to obey before we can know the work to be done. Our knowledge is based not on some universal humans capacity to perceive the good but upon our entering into a particular relationship with God through an apprenticeship of obedience and a self-sacrificing love for others engaged in God’s work. Absolute truths which can only be perceived subjectively.

We commit before we know and not the other way round.


3 responses

  1. Score one for Crystal…. Go me! :-)An interesting thing about the going from servants to friends … the NAB mentions that … in the Old Testament, Moses (⇒ Deut 34:5), Joshua (⇒ Joshua 24:29), and David (⇒ Psalm 89:21) were called “servants” or “slaves of Yahweh”; only Abraham (⇒ Isaiah 41:8; ⇒ 2 Chron 20:7; cf ⇒ James 2:23) was called a “friend of God.”

  2. David,You wrote, “Instead we are to love others who are likewise in Christ.” I wonder what this implies for you? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?I agree with you that partnership with God requires a Christ-like love… I see this as a marker for God’s presence within us and within this world.”…upon our entering into a particular relationship with God through an apprenticeship of obedience and a self-sacrificing love for others engaged in God’s work.” It seems to me, or as Larry would say, IMHO, the period in this sentence belongs after “others.” 😉

  3. I was very careful to emphasize that this passage does nots eem to teach universal love or universal election. This does not eman I do not believ in either concept or taht i do not belive Jesus or the early church did not teach them.It means taht at different tiems and places emphasis goes to certain matters. If on one occaision Jesus says, love your enemies I do not take taht to mean I cannot love my friends.What it may suggest is that the love we are to express to enemies and neighbours and others may be rooted in different rationale than the love for co-workers in the cause.It seems to me we are being told in this passage that our very ability to do God’s will on this earth is conditional on loving others commited to doing God’s will on this earth.

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