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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Thoughts on Easter 6: True Friends Tell It Like It Is

To be a friend means you tell it like it is. True friends speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). For to speak the truth is to love. To be a friend, then, to truly love, then, is to speak plainly, openly. It's to speak frankly and honestly and truthfully. And when one does this, when one person puts what he really thinks out there he lays down his life for the other's sake. In speaking plainly and frankly to someone, you put them first, you put their needs before yours, you put what is in their best interest before your own. You lay down your own life for the sake of theirs. For in speaking plainly, in speaking frankly, in telling it like it is, you give yourself for their gain rather than taking from them for your own, and thus you subject yourself to rejection, to misuse, and to all kinds of abuse. Nevertheless, this is the mark of true love and true friendship--open and honest speech, laying down your life for theirs.

And this is what, at last, our Lord gives to His disciples when He goes to the Father and sends them the Spirit of Truth. He lays down His life for His friends in being lifted up from the earth on the cross. He goes to the Father and sends the Spirit of Truth. He sends the Paraclete, who comes to lead them into all Truth, to lead them into what is to come, to declare to them what belongs to Jesus. Though they are His enemies according to the flesh, He treats them as friends because he speaks plainly, frankly (John 15:15) and because he lays down His life for them (John 15:13).

And so when the Holy Spirit comes, when the Paraclete, who bears and rears the children of God comes, he will lead them into a life as a friend of the Lord, a friend of the King of Kings. He will lead them into a life of prayer, a life of sacrificial prayer.

παρρησία (John 16:25) is an attribute of friendship because those who spoke plainly were understood to be trustworthy and speaking in the friend's best interest not their own. Whereas someone seeking their own interest would flatter by word and conduct. They would not be honest. They would not be frank and open.

The Lord is free to speak what He wants. He has nothing to hide. He is always open and frank. He has the freedom of speech because He is the Lord, the King. Thus our Lord will speak frankly and openly, plainly, to His disciples. He will use His παρρησίᾳ and thereby give to His disciples the status of friend and the freedom of speech with Him. Our Lord's παρρησία works παρρησία in those who hear Him. For by freely giving His Word He gives them His Spirit, His Voice. He gives them Himself. They are now one, even as the Father and the Son are one.

So now those who hear the Lord's παρρησία have the same. They can speak openly, honestly, frankly, candidly with Him. They are His friends.

But notice that the Lord rebukes His disciples for their response to His gift of παρρησία.
"Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone." (John 15:30-32)
The disciples don't respond in παρρησία. They respond with flattery. They don't treat Him as friend. They are trying to make themselves look good, hold themselves up. To point this out to them, our Lord says that they will all desert Him. They will all leave Him alone. Their response is a rejection of the παρρησίᾳ He gave them. The disciples, therefore, reject Him as their friend, as one who will will give His life for theirs. It is a rejection of Him, of His Word, of His Spirit. They don't want to be friends. They want to be slaves.

Consider your own life. Consider your own prayers. Do you couch your thoughts and your words to make you look good? Do you flatter your people, your confessor, your Lord with vain and idol speech? Are you open with them. Do you lay down you life for them? Are you their friend?

But here's the point: Despite your answer, regardless of your actions, The Lord is nevertheless your friend. He gave His life for you. He gives you His Spirit, His Word. You, therefore, have the right of παρρησία. You have freedom of speech. You can speak openly, plainly, honestly and frankly. You can tell it like it is. You can complain. You can ask the Father of your friend, our Lord Jesus Christ, anything. You have His ear because He gave it to you. Use it. Use this gift. Use your παρρησίᾳ. Open the Psalter to learn how. It is His Word, which carries His Spirit. And this will lead you into all Truth, which will give you life, joy, a freedom. Oh Lord open my lips. And He does.