Jesus said, "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father."
Almost all of the central metaphors we deploy in imagining human love for God are hierarchical. We imagine that we love God as Father, as Lord, King, Master and so on. Using exclusively hierarchical metaphors is a curious business given that Jesus seeks to institute an antihierarchical Beloved Community—to use Martin King’s memorable phrase. A “kindom” not a kingdom. Even the beloved metaphor “Father” leaves devotees in the role of children and risks infantilizing Christians. Only the symbolic registers of erotic love (think Song of Solomon) and friendship are the great metaphorical exceptions.
The word translated as “servant” here could well, and perhaps more accurately translated, “slave.” Jesus makes clear that this metaphor is no longer appropriate because we have been called into Jesus’s work of Beloved Community building. We know what the Master is doing so the Master has also become Friend. Talk of friendship leads us also ask how God’s work of instituting the Beloved Community could possibly happen without us. God’s way is not of hoarding power but distributing it—to empower Jesus’s friends to extend his work and his way of being and building peace into the world. So, we are left with a provocative question, “How might extending philia—friendship love—toward God lead us to reimagine life with the Divine? A creative question for kin-dom cultivating folk!
The Spirit is coming to bless us all with a new song:
Let our joy be complete!
Gifts for the good of all, poured out on all to teach us a new song:
Love one another!
Strangers and neighbors, foreigners and family will join in the new song:
No longer servants but friends!
Come, let our worship make a joyful noise,
Rejoicing in the friendship of God.
from Friends of God: Service Prayers for the Sixth Sunday of Easter,