Co-laboring With God. By Bill Johnson
God has made Himself vulnerable to the desires of His people. The disciples lived in awe of this One who called them to leave everything and follow.
It was an easy choice. When He spoke, something came alive in them that they never knew existed. There was something in His voice that was worth living for—worth giving one’s life for.
Everyday with Jesus was filled with a constant barrage of things they could not understand; whether it was a demoniac falling at Jesus’ feet in worship, or the overbearing, religious leaders becoming silent in His presence; it was all overwhelming.
Their lives had taken on a meaning and purpose that made everything else disappointing at best. Oh, they had their personal issues, for sure, but they had been apprehended by God and now nothing else mattered.
The momentum of the lifestyle they experienced would be hard for us to comprehend. Every word, every action seemed to have eternal significance.
It must have occurred to them that to serve in the courts of this King would be far better than living in their own palaces. They were experiencing firsthand what David felt when he lived with God’s presence as his priority.
The Ultimate Transition
Toward the end of His earthly life, Jesus gave His disciples the ultimate promotion. He told the twelve that He no longer called them servants, but friends.
To be in the same room with Him, or even to admire Him from a distance, was more than they could have asked for. But Jesus brought them into His life. They had proven themselves worthy of the greatest promotion ever experienced by humanity—from servants to intimates.
Perhaps only Esther of old could really understand what that exaltation felt like, as she, a servant girl who descended from captives, was promoted to queen. “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15).
With this promotion, the disciples’ attention would now shift from the task at hand to the One within reach. They were given access to the secrets in the heart of God.
When Jesus gave His disciples this promotion, He did so by describing the difference between the two positions.
Servants don’t know what their master is doing. They don’t have access to the personal, intimate realm of their master. They are task-oriented. Obedience is their primary focus—and rightly so, for their lives depend on success in that area.
But friends have a different focus. It almost sounds blasphemous to say that obedience is not the top concern for the friend, but it is true. Obedience will always be important, as the previous verse highlights, "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).
But friends are less concerned about disobeying than they are about disappointing. The disciples’ focus shifted from the commandments to the presence, from the assignment to the relationship, from “what I do for Him” to "how my choices affect Him.”
This bestowal of friendship made the revolution we continue to experience possible.
Bill Johnson is a fifth generation pastor. He was pastor at Mountain Chapel in Weaverville for 17 years, and in 1996 he took up the pastorate at Bethel Church in Redding. His ministry has been characterized by a constant revival and the manifestation of miracles.