Many want to be messengers. Proclaimers with authority. Influencers with a following. But do we want to be friends? Friends of Jesus? And are we willing to embrace the life of loving obedience and loyalty that Jesus described of His friends (Jn. 15:14)? To talk about the subject of messengers, you must begin with the subject of friendship—friendship with God. No messenger of the Lord is not first a friend of Jesus, because when you find a messenger of the Word of God, whose voice carries authority to shift and bring piercing light to the hearts of men, you have found someone that first forsook everything in order to seek and find and lay hold of the Man Christ Jesus (Lk. 14:33; Phil. 3:8). They proclaim what they have seen and heard. They declare Whom they have sought and found. They have been with Him, and their words carry the weight of relational knowledge, and the light of living understanding.
The life of John the Baptist displays this pattern profoundly. John called himself, “a voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord” (Jn. 1:23). Yet before becoming that voice that would shift his generation, John became a friend of God (Jn. 3:29). The authority and anointing that caused his voice to tear open the hearts of his hearers, into repentance and unto holy transformation, arose from a life of loving obedience to God, from the wilderness of prayer and fasting, where John first heard the voice of the Bridegroom, and his joy was made full (Jn. 3:29).
A friend of God is one who has given themselves to the pursuit of the vast treasury of the unsearchable riches of Christ, desperately seeking and doggedly pursuing His heart, His thoughts, His emotions, and His perspectives (Prob. 2:1-5; Eph. 3:8). Risking all for their one shot in this transient life of truly finding the One in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden, they lay hold of the Man Christ Jesus (Col. 2:3; Phil. 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:5). And when they speak of Him, their voice, arising from the fires of transformation, carries the weight of relational history and experiential knowledge of a real Person—the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn. 14:6).
The call to become a messenger is first a call to become a friend of the Lord—to seek Him ardently, in our own wilderness lifestyle of prayer and fasting, with the singular aim of knowing Him and acquiring deep relationship with Him—the only wellspring of lasting joy (Jn. 15:11). It is a call to love and obey Him at the risk of great loss, with a willingness to boldly proclaim what He speaks to us, as a faithful witness (Jn. 15:14).
The Father gives the gift of salvation freely and generously, according to our need of mercy; friendship with Jesus, however, is costly and decisively chosen by His people, again and again, and again. It’s a cost Jesus made no apology for. He said the way was narrow, the cross we would bear was compulsory and the building of the tower would be costly (Matt. 7:13, 14; Lk. 9:23, 14:28). Voluntary, loyal love, that keeps saying yes, no matter the cost or loss, is the beating heart of Jesus’ friends. And this is the bleeding heart inside of every messenger.
It can take a few months, or maybe years, to become an articulator, to learn a message on the intellectual level; but a messenger is more than a deliverer of ideas. His life embodies the message. He is one who has taken holy truths and words on the written page of the Word, into the furnace of prayer and fasting and loving meditation – until the Spirit of God ignites the heart with living understanding, and the messenger becomes the message he proclaims, as a living epistle (2 Cor. 3:2, 3). Thus, before proclaiming a message, we must be willing to become the message through the costly pathways of deep affection and friendship with Jesus.
The trouble of our day is not altogether unlike the trouble of John the Baptist’s day. At the same time, there are profound parallels to the glorious invitation before us. In a transitional generation that is barreling at rapid speed to the coming of the Lord, will we be willing to leave the broad way of the masses, voluntarily embrace the wilderness of prayer and fasting, where friendship with God is forged, and the message of God is branded upon the heart of the messenger?
In the generation of the Lord’s return, out of the Father’s fierce commitment to His Son, He will zealously bring forth messengers who faithfully proclaim the beauty of Jesus. Today, the Man Christ Jesus beckons us—beckons you, beckons me—beckons a generation, to fearlessly resist our obsession with quick notoriety and influence, and to come after Him wholeheartedly. He calls us to embrace the costly path of friendship with Himself that alone leads to true authority and eternal impact, becoming burning and shining lamps who proclaim to a dark world the Man whom they have seen and known, shattering the darkness with the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (Jn. 5:35; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Cor. 4:4-6).