This week, you should be studying lesson three from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church book. The lesson focuses on Christ and His role as our Savior and our God. As I studied the first two parts, I was touched by the depth of the love President Kimball obviously felt for the Lord.
The first section, on the life of President Kimball, recalls a time when then-Elder Kimball left his sickbed to commune with the Savior and to celebrate his role as an Apostle. The scene painted so obviously reveals the love and emotion the man felt towards his Redeemer.
As we continue reading, we listen to the testimony of Christ’s divine role as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. The line that most stood out to me was the last one in the first section: “He is my friend…”
So often when we describe the Savior, the closest relationship we tend to reveal is that He is our brother. Family is and ought to be stronger than friendship – ‘blood is thicker than water’, they say – but the thing that stands out about friends is that they must be chosen. Sure, there are times that they make you shake your head in bemusement or aggravation, but we choose to continue that relationship.
A friend is a person you go to in your times of need. When you are heartbroken or hurting, when you are celebrating or overjoyed, your friends buoy you up and give you strength. Shouldn’t we then seek that sort of relationship with our Savior? A role not thrust upon Him, not forced, but one desired?
In John 15, Christ describes His friendship with His disciples. He begins in verse 13 by noting that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The Savior has already proven His friendship for us; now it is up to us to prove ours to His. We may not be called upon to die for Christ, but we surely can live for Him. Indeed, Jesus goes on to say “ye are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.” Such a relationship would not work well in an imperfect mortal friendship; I struggled with this concept as part of a friendship. However, He continues by defining the difference between a servent and a friend. A servent does not know what the master does, but a friend has that knowledge available. Christ has already told us of His divine plan: He seeks to bring us back home and reunite us with our Heavenly Father. Thus, all things He commands are part of this plan, and since He is perfect, all things He commands are similarly without risk. We can trust in Him to issue only commands that will help us, never ones that will harm us.
Thus, to develop our relationships with Christ, to truly become His friend, we must seek to keep His commandments. As He has already done so much for us, how could we deny Him this? He has asked us for our obedience after He has taken our sins upon His shoulders, but even if we do all that He asks, we can never repay Him. Furthermore, as we keep the commandments and draw closer to us, He continues to bless us further. We are and forever will be “unprofitable servants” (see Mosiah 2:21-25). Even so, He has granted us the right and priviledge to be more than servants – we can be His friend. As we serve Him and keep His commandments, we draw closer to Him, and can rely more and more upon Him. He will forever be our confidante and closest friend; He will always understand our pains and grief, having borne them himself. He is always there, willing to be our friend. The only barrier in this friendship is us. How far are we willing to go to develop it?