The Friend I Have Above!
James Smith, 1856
The sweets of friendship are pleasant, and our need of friendship is great. We cannot do without a friend — it never was intended that we should. Earthly friends are useful — but a heavenly friend is absolutely necessary. Jesus is the sinner's friend. Jesus is emphatically the believer's friend. He is my friend.
Reader, is He your friend?
Do you know His name?
Do you trust His blood?
Do you rely on His promises?
Do you walk by His precepts?
Do you copy His example?
Do you breathe His spirit?
Do you look, long, and wait for His appearing?
By these things His friends are known, and where these are — there is no doubt about friendship with Jesus.
Jesus was above — but friendship brought Him to our world. Having accomplished His work, friendship influenced Him to depart and go unto His Father. He is in heaven this day as my friend. He represents me. He pleads for me. He watches over me. He sends to me. He rejoices to do me good. He has all I need. He is willing to give it. He bids me ask it. He promises to bestow it.
Reader, if you are a believer — all this is true of you. I want you to think of what Jesus is to you, of what Jesus has for you. This will affect your heart, elevate your affections, and influence your life. We do not think of Jesus half enough. We do not exercise the confidence in Him we should. We do not expect from Him as we ought. We cannot say, "I live unto the Lord." Why not? Just because we allow our thoughts to grovel on earth, or center in SELF, or be taken up with the things that perish in the using.
If we lived at the cross;
if we walked closely with God;
if we realized eternity;
if we enjoyed gospel liberty —
our souls would be in a very different state, and our lives would bear a very different impress.
If Jesus is our friend — then what does He expect from us? This is an important question. Have you considered it much? Do you often consider it? My brother, my sister, let us ask now, "What does Jesus expect from me?" We owe everything to Him. But for Him — we would now be miserable — we would have been lost forever. He undertook our cause. He shed His blood for our ransom. He sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts. He put His blessed book into our hands. He went up to heaven to intercede on our behalf. He has placed us in a world inhabited by his enemies, by our sinful brethren and sisters. He has put the only means of their salvation into our hands. He is willing to use us to do them good.
What then does He expect of us? Does He not expect that we should pity them — sympathize with them — desire their salvation — and try to do them good? Does He not expect us to speak of Him to them, to tell them of His love to us, His suitability to them, and His willingness to do them good? Must He not expect us to feel a deep interest in them, and to manifest that interest? Do you think He ever expected that we should live in the same country, in the same locality, in the same house, with sinners — and allow them to live ignorant of Him, and sink into hell without being warned of their danger, invited to His feet, and affectionately pressed to seek salvation at His hands — that we should speak to them on all common topics, deal with them in a way of business, live on neighborly terms with them — and yet manifest no more concern for their souls, than as if they had no souls? Could He expect this of us? Especially when we have often pretended to be willing to do anything for Him, to give anything to Him, and have sung, as if we meant every word —
"Then will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Savior I have found;
I'll point to His redeeming blood.
And say, Behold the way to God!"
Jesus would naturally have expected that our love to Him would produce zeal for Him; and that natural sympathy for our fellow-immortals would induce us to speak of Him. But He has committed the evangelization of the nations, of the whole world, to His people. "Go," said He, "and teach all nations." But have the nations been taught? They have not! Are they now being taught? They are not. The harvest is plenteous — but the laborers are few. Have we taught all we could? We have not. Are we now teaching all we can? Let each ones conscience answer. To how many have we spoken, during the past month, with the express design of leading them to Jesus? To how many! How many tracts have we distributed? How many! How much time have we spent in intercessory prayer, pleading with God to pour out His Spirit, and so bring sinners to Himself? How much! Alas! alas! I fear we are guilty — guilty of gross ingratitude to our friend who is above — guilty of negligence, of cruelty toward those who are perishing in their sins.
Shall we go on as we have done? Shall we! What! and neglect our duty, slight our privileges, dishonor our Savior, harden infidels, allow souls to perish without an effort, and leave Satan to lead captive sinners all around us at his will!
Lord Jesus! convince us of our sin, cleanse us from blood-guiltiness, fill us with the love that glowed in your own heart, and pour upon us such a measure of the Spirit as shall produce a great, an immediate, an abiding change in us! Spirit of God! come down upon us, and burn up our selfishness, fill us with zeal for God, and tender sympathy with our poor perishing fellow sinners! Father of mercies! pardon the past, humble us deeply before your throne at present, give us deep repentance, and let the future bear witness that we live unto the Lord!
Fellow-Christians! — Awake! the enemy is in the field, the enemy is in the church, the enemy is in the heart! Anise! God calls upon you to arise, the cross of Jesus calls you to arise, the groans of lost souls call upon you to arise! To the Rescue! Launch the lifeboat — even Christ's glorious gospel! Man it with choice, daring, determined spirits; push across the waves, cut through the winds, brave the storm! Onward, onward, picking up poor shipwrecked, perishing immortals; nor rest until you bring it back laden with rescued ones, to present as trophies to your God and Savior!
Thousands! millions! hundreds of millions have perished already! Millions are perishing now, and there is no prospect of their escaping the fearful doom — except every Christian bestir himself, and all enter on the work! Remember, O remember, the captain of salvation expects every Christian to do his duty! My soul, do yours!