Master/Servant to Friend

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. (John 15)

Sixteen years ago I had a philosophy professor who shifted my view of the world. It wasn't so much the philosophical concepts–which I didn't always grasp anyway–that caused the shift; it was the way I was introduced to ideas, to other ways of thinking. It wasn't the text, it was the teacher that tilted my world. It wasn't the academic information that I first found compelling, it was Vaden House, and his way of engaging the world of ideas that was self-yielding and flexible, without shades of regression on one hand, or gullibility on the other.

There was no power broking with Vaden. If he was sifting through a problem and discovered an untested avenue, or a new idea, or a new formulation of old idea, he would share it. There was no hording of information so as to use it at some opportune time to impress his students. Everything flowed. Everything was open to discussion. And because he had an abiding love for God and a deep faith, things were open to reinterpretation, things were negotiable.

He had no fear of being blind-sided. No fear of being washed off a rock by some rogue-wave. Because he didn't live…tied to a rock. He lived on the water, floating free, with the vertically steadying effect of a sea-anchor–a concept I've taken to heart because it rings true to being a contingent self.

His soul-space was open. Sitting in his office before or after a class was like being in a hyperbaric chamber. The oxygen was denser and the energy this created was never dammed-up. It flowed through him and you felt your own energy responding. Even though Vaden had a superior mind, what he offered me was not a teacher/student relationship, he offered me the friendship of a fellow pilgrim.

It's astonishing that Jesus–Son of God–offers this kind of friendship.

Jesus declines control and passes-up the power inherent in having the special knowledge of a Master. Instead he makes everything known, everything is brought into the open.

But taking away the master/servant arrangement is destabilizing. We servant/slaves don't always want liberation. Much safer to be stuck in place and rag about the conditions, than risk the new thing. On the flip-side, we who are set on being masters, usually won't relinquish power. Much safer, not to mention prestigious, to stay in control by manipulating who gets to know what.

In the confines of a master/servant relationship nothing much new ever grows. But the destabilizing fraternity of friendship is a green-house. Things flourish here. And here is where we find Jesus.

Although we may want to fall back on a Master/servant relationship with Jesus, it is no longer an option. Only, I suppose, a delusional option. Friendship with Jesus, and all that that implies, is the only way ahead. And if, as Christians, we want to help others, modeling this non-manipulative friendship, which is true friendship, is the only thing that will generate the possibility.

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