I am still soaking everything in that I read in The Transforming Friendship by Leslie D. Weatherhead. I have been thinking a lot about the points he raised in this incredible book. Mostly, the concept of God in Jesus as Friend. This is a huge concept. It is one we speak of often, but scarcely understand. We call Jesus our friend, but we have no real idea what that entails. For many, the concept of friend in general is all but antiseptic. To call Jesus a friend is to really call him an "acquaintance" or someone we sometimes spend time with or speak to from time-to-time. This is not the kind of friendship God offers to us in Jesus. It is so much more...
Weatherhead talks a lot in the beginning of the book about the friendship between Jesus and his disciples, most especially between the Resurrection and the Ascension. He speaks of the "strange appearings" of Jesus after the resurrection.
"What do these strange appearings and disappearings mean? They are His perfect way of making [the Disciples] feel that He is never far away. He does not seem to be there. Then He breaks in upon them, always knows what has happened, always takes charge of the situation, until they never know when they may become aware of Him...The experience becomes richer. They feel that He is never absent. Communion now will mean as much as it did when they could Hear His voice, see His face, and touch Him."
What did this do for them? Everything. These indescribable experiences of true community with Christ gave them the strength, power and confidence to spread hope to the world. These moments were life-changing enough to those who experienced them that they were willing to die for the chance just to tell others about it. That is the kind of friendship Jesus offered while He was on earth and, perhaps all the more between his Resurrection and Ascension.
To truly walk through life with the Friendship of Jesus is to be transformed like the Disciples in those final days between the Resurrection and Ascension. For, "Christianity is meaningless unless this friendship can do as much for us. What Jesus once was, He is eternally." What a beautiful, blessed thought! Isn't this what we all long for in this life? And it is available to us...now.
I know this post is heavy in quotes, but Weatherhead says it all so well! Let me leave you with one more for the road. Let this one sink in...
"I want to say to all who are worshiping a picture of Jesus in a frame called History - to people who are beaten in their lonely toilsome effort to be like the Hero of that picture - that there is a richer experience than they have yet known. If they will sit down quietly He will come out of the picture into their life. A little faith - that kind of effortless prayer which is the leaving of the heart's door upon the latch - and the Guest will come as often as you want Him, and you will be carried further than a whole year of fussy striving would take you; for He is not a ghost of the dead past, but a friend alive forevermore."