Friday, June 1, 2007

Letters of recommendation

I spent almost the entire day today in a committee meeting, proofreading and editing recommendation letters for students who want to enter pre-health professions. I don't know this group of students as well as I've known past groups; I was on sabbatical when most of them took the introductory course that I teach, and I no longer teach in the sophomore level class. But it was interesting how much I learned about them just from what other professors wrote about them.

Since I spent so much time reading these letters, I thought I'd look at one of the letters of recommendation in the Bible---Philemon. In this letter, Paul is asking Philemon to take back Onesimus, not as a slave but as a brother. Although this is a short book, it brings me back to my inductive Bible study days with Carol--this short book would take us at least a month! I loved those studies--after opening in prayer, she'd basically say, "so what did the Lord show you this week?" It was very empowering, and I love how she gently encouraged us to grow. But I'll save my inductive study for later!

What hit me from this passage tonight was verses 15b-16a...that you might have him back for good— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. To me that echoed John 15:15, where Jesus says to his disciples (that's us :)) "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. " In both cases, the word is "doulos" for slave/servant.

So what does it mean that God calls us to be his friends, not just his servants? I struggle with wrapping my brain around this. How could the king of the universe want me as a friend? I don't even have that many earthly friends--and most of the people I call friends would probably call me acquaintances at best (note to self: this negative self talk is not of God, but is definitely how I feel right now). He says one of the reasons he calls us friends is because we know what he knows. What's cool is the word for "know" is also translated as "see"--so we've seen what he's seen. How cool is that? Aren't the people you call friends the ones who know everything about you, who have seen things with you and about you?

Lord, I want to know others and be known, to see them and be seen. And more than that, I want to know you and see what You see. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear...and hands and arms to do your will.


Jen said...

I was just thanking God this weekend for your friendship! I have a "best" friend from my late teen/early adult years but she lives in California and lives a totally kid-free life. I thank God for a friend like you who knows exactly what it's like to be up all night and then plaster a smile on her face for the rest of the day. Who knows what it's like to realize in the middle of the day that you smell like baby puke, baby shampoo and Desitin all rolled into one. A friend who is always encouraging me to be a good wife, mom and, most importantly, a godly woman. Thanks for "knowing" me and sharing your life with me!

Anonymous said...

Just had this passage as a sermon in church a few weeks ago--great topic. --NancyK