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Jesus-Centered Friendships | Building Strong Friendships (Part 3)

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amen valentine’s day we are here to talk about love well I know that for some of you you may love love you may love this day and be so excited to celebrate it with the people around you whether it’s your beloved spouse or children or your family and or there may be some of you that hate this day you wish that this day would never be celebrated because it brings too much pain too much disappointment or loss or grief and if you’re any one of my friends for the last so many years we know this day as singleness awareness day because valentine’s day tends to be the day where we all realize this human desire for love we all have it whether it’s satisfied in your life right now or it’s not satisfied we realize that we have a longing for love there’s a whole lot of people that say some things about love what I read to you today was from the apostle

john but a man named george sand says this is the only one happiness in this life to love and to be loved we go to the saint ignatius or augustine he says better to have loved and lost than to never be loved at all lots of lots of literature and movies and and stories have been created around this concept of love because it touches every single human soul and and we don’t want just surfacy love we want to know love to the to the depth and the core that it touches our very soul that’s what we crave but I’m going to suggest today that actually it’s from the seed of friendship abiding love can grow it’s got to start somewhere and it starts often with friendship and today we’re talking about the kind of love that is brotherly love brotherly sisterly kindness kind of love and it’s from that place I think that deep abiding love can grow and I don’t know

where you stand with Jesus or why you’re tuning in with us today but I’m going to argue today that if we want to get to those strong abiding places in love they need to be Jesus centered friendships the strongest friendships are Jesus centered friendships but that begs the question what in the world makes a Jesus centered friendship distinct and so today I’m going to suggest four things so if you like to take notes this is a great way you can follow and track and find four things that I think make Jesus centered friendship distinct the very first thing is that Jesus-centered friendships are rooted in an ancient story we we even sang about it today we sing that Jesus is our friend the story of long ago is that God the creator of the universe the creator of us the one who breathed into our nostrils the breath of life that God he befriends us look at all

these examples that we have we have adam and eve eve he they’re walking and talking with God we have noah it says that he’s faithfully walking with God abraham was called God’s friend and that was what he was known for even in james chapter chapter 2 which is a long time after abraham even lived he was known for being a friend of God moses and joshua they took off and they went to the tent of meeting and it described their experience with God as one speaking with a friend we hear numerous stories after story in the minor and major prophets of prophets hearing from God and and doing what he says so they’re they’re friends of God even king david was known for to be a man after God’s heart and then like we talked about last week the disciples are specifically chosen and invited into friendship with Jesus and later on in john

chapter 15 15 he says you’re not just my servants you’re not just to do my bidding you’re this isn’t a master servant relationship I call you friends you know my business you know my heart you’re you’re invited into a closer relationship and then we have evidence that in the apostles and even those that were not a part of the jewish tradition they become intimate friends with Jesus spirit in acts and in all of paul’s writing they they become friends of God and and you know how we know that these people are friends of God they talk with God and they walk with God the friends of God are people that have a relationship of ongoing connection with him and this is the kind of relationship that Jesus invites us into I don’t know where you’re at with your relationship with Jesus but a relationship and a friendship with him is not just becoming friends

of friends of Jesus but it’s actually starting to talk with him and walk with him ourselves and I feel like this is an important time in our historical journey where we need to lean into friendship with God and we need to root ourselves in this ancient story by letting him be our friend letting him tell us that we are deeply loved and that we can look we can walk with him too and show him that we love him and we are standing in his friendship the second distinctive of Jesus centered friendship I think actually redefines friendship because as you if someone were to ask you today what do you think a friend is I asked a friend the other day for coffee and she said it’s someone who who knows me who and I know somebody who gets me and I get them and maybe we define friendship as people that have similarities we we think similarly we

like the same things but the kind of friendship that Jesus offers us goes beyond the commonalities it’s not just a recreational friend or a neighbor friend or a work friend or or the things that we enjoy I think that this definition sums it up companion who fights for your ultimate good nearness with christ this is a definition by kelly needham in her book friend-ish and I thought this was a really interesting read and I wanted to bring this definition to you today because I think a distinction between Jesus-centered friends is that we care to fight for others nearness with christ and I’m curious if you sat back and you thought hmm who are my Jesus-centered friends who are my companions who fight for my ultimate good my nearness with christ it’s a gift if you know this kind of friendship I feel like God has blessed me with

friends throughout seasons of my life to be companions that fight for my nearness with christ these are friends that when things are tough they say yvonne do you want to pray about that let’s talk to Jesus about that these are friends that when I’m spiraling in a vortex of my own disorientation or despair or discouragement and I feel like it’s dark they start asking me gentle questions to remind me that God is still good that he can be trusted and that we can still walk together with him and I also wonder if you were to think about you being that friend are you that friend are you a companion that fights for someone else’s ultimate good their nearness with christ you know there’s lots of different friends in my life and and friends that have been very near and dear to me and the way that I have befriended others sometimes it’s helpful and

sometimes it does point out some things but sometimes I’m scared and I don’t want to to confront someone and I’d rather just sit there in the in the shared experience of that place than really love them with wounding words in proverbs chapter 27 it says wounds from a friend can be trusted but the enemy multiplies kisses so whenever the Jesus centered friendships when they wound us or when they say things that kind of pierce and sting for the moment we know that the Jesus centered friendships they want more for us they want to fight for something greater for a connection with Jesus that maybe we feel like is just too far away but then those the other kinds of friends that come and they multiply their affections and I don’t know if you’ve ever had this kind of friend who who wants you to love them so much that they throw

on the affirmation or have you ever had a friend who starts to come to you for all that they need and and they want you to sort of be their their savior I’ve been in those situations and to me those kind of friendships they feel like there’s so much pressure like I’m supposed to be your everything and I can’t give that I’m only human I think there are friendships that are are overly dependent on one another and it’s possible that if we don’t see friendship from this Jesus centered place where each of us are connected to the friendship of God and where we can fight for one another’s good from that place it can get a little distorted so kelly need him in the same book friendish she talks about a couple warning signs and I just want to read them for you today she says when we depend on friendship over and above Jesus it’s dangerous those

friends can’t be Jesus to us when we look to friendship to fulfill needs that only God can fulfill it’s idolatry she says and by idolatry we mean you could actually worship a friend by hoping that they are your savior they’re going to come and rescue you from your situation maybe this friend is your only connection to God and by being with that person you you feel like you’re with God even though you’re not really personally being with God on your own maybe the friend becomes your only refuge in place of safety or the final say and the final verdict you go to that friend for for what’s right and what’s wrong a friendship loses its ability to or when a friendship loses its ability to point out what’s keeping you from Jesus it’s a hindrance not an asset and when we are the center of friendship it’s misused because friendship isn’t just for us I

mean it feels good and it feels like a gift when we’re given a friend but if friendship is now defined as a companion who fights for our ultimate good it’s actually about them this is like a three-way friendship where we are more concerned about their relationship with the other the next um oh I wanted to mention that we’re about to do this series on ruth and ruth means friendship and I love that we get to kind of continue our friendship series secretly uh into lent by looking at this story of ruth but ruth she says to naomi while naomi is in a pit of despair she even renames herself bitter because her life is so awful she feels and ruth says your God will be my God and I think ruth was fighting for for naomi and her in friendship because she wanted naomi to find connection with her God again the next distinctive that I think comes out of

friendship is that Jesus-centered friendship rests in a good gospel friendship is usually amazing and bubbly at first you can kind of click but like I said friendship is more about helping someone be near to Jesus than it is just about what we can gain and and the connectivity between us but friendship at some point in the journey it’s it’s gonna hit the the rocks in and the bumps on the road right and friendship in order to continue um and to be a Jesus-centered friendship has to be rest has to rest in some good news and so I’ve got some good news for you I I brought this up here because I wanted to just go through a little gospel story and from what I understood about the good news uh when I was younger was that me you know I am a sinner you know so I’m bad and but plus when Jesus comes and he’s good you know then actually I’ll just make

Jesus have a robe or something and and so even though I’m sinful and Jesus is good his righteousness covers me and now I’m good that’s sort of the message that I heard that was the good news which in a lot of ways it does sound like good news I can I go from being bad to being good but what I have grown to learn about the good news is that God he created me and you know he also created a world for me to live in you know with trees and plants and cute little animals you know cool um and and he’s also created me to be with others and there’s actually all this in between space the good news is not just about me the entity being going from bad to good there’s actually a relationship that I have with God a relationship that I have with others with the world and even with myself and sin when sin came into the world the

adam and eve hid their relationship with God was was messed up it was disordered and they ate from the tree and that their relationship with the world was ordered and now they blamed one another and they felt shame and now we have this issue between all the relationships around us and the good news is really that when Jesus comes he desires to set all the in-between spaces right which means that in friendship in our relationships when they’re centered in Jesus they can find forgiveness they can find healing they can find restoration because Jesus blood covers the in between parts of our relationships I think that when friendship gets hard friendship in Jesus rests in a good gospel which means that in between spaces with God with others and even ourselves can be mended and can be worked through not to say that this isn’t

a difficult process and it’s not like Jesus comes and he magically makes friendship easy we still have to work through that journey but there’s a resting and a peace that comes when our friendship is rooted in this good gospel I also think that when friendships move on that Jesus centered friendships they rest in a good gospel that looks toward eternity there have been many seasons of friendships that I’ve had in my life and when they end because or they I don’t talk to them regularly and it’s not an ongoing active kind of friendship I trust that one day in eternity we get to romp around and enjoy one another again and that’s a gorgeous thing about this gospel that doesn’t just mean that friendship is for now the here and now friendship is also for eternity so when friends take a new call because they feel God’s called them elsewhere we

can we can bless them and we can say we can be we will be re reunited when when friends choose something different we can be reunited and I love the classic story of jonathan and david this was a friendship where they connected because they were they were wanting to fight for the ultimate kingdom they knew that each other had a heart for the kingdom of God over the kingdom of israel and the kingdom of king saul and it bonded them very very quickly and we see evidence that they really wanted to spend more time together and yet they were not allowed to and there was this this painful breaking that david had to run away because jonathan’s dad king saul wanted to kill him so obviously they couldn’t have an active and ongoing friendship but they could look forward to one day enjoying their friendship in eternity

the last distinctive in Jesus centered friendships that I want to talk about today is that I think that they refine us in christ’s likeness so just like when friendships hit the road and it seems like they kind of enter the fire they friendships that are committed to Jesus and are willing to work through those bumps in the road and allow Jesus in the gospel to heal them in the in between spaces they can come out the other side looking differently now back in college I had this friend that I spent every day with pretty much she was my roommate and we did everything together and she had worked at a camp the summer before I worked there and the summer that I attended I had a little camper come up to me and say you know what yvonne you remind me of this other counselor and I said oh really you know who is she is she cool you know and she said

oh yeah it was it’s a counselor that isn’t here this year but her name’s kim pic or kim carter and I was like interestingly enough kim and I have spent almost every waking moment together over this last year and it’s very interesting that you say that we are act and talk and seem similar and I can tell that I was the one becoming more like my friend kim because she knew kim from the year before and so the more time that I spent with kim the more that my kim likeness came out and I think that that’s true in our life with Jesus the more time that we spend with our friend Jesus and we get to know him we know how he he talks we know how he thinks we know how he walks and what he would choose maybe we could if he was in the other room you know we could catch eyes and we’d know what he was about to do the more that that maybe we start to

look more like Jesus too and if our friend is also doing the same thing how much more does that help us because now when we’re spending time with Jesus and we’re spending time with this companion who fights for our nearness with christ now we’ve got more people that start to help us be shaped in the likeness of christ there’s an interesting story from scripture and an interesting character who pretty much looked nothing like christ and he went on a long journey and we actually have an incredible amount of information about him and about his friends in God’s word because the new testament is filled with his writings the apostle paul was an enemy of God he was not his friend in fact he hated his friends he worked to exterminate all of his friends and and to stop the movement of Jesus and there was one day on this road where he

had this incredible encounter where God just spoke clearly to him and said saul why are you doing this to me and in this moment there was this invitation from Jesus who called him out who wounded him maybe in that moment but because he wanted his friendship and so saul actually did a 180 and he wanted to be friends with God but that didn’t always go over so well with those around him because they didn’t trust him paul was at one time their enemy and now he was he’s saying that he wants to be their Jesus-centered friend so he needed other friends in his life a friend like barnabas who could come alongside him and say I I am more trusted in this community of Jesus friends and so I’m going to vouch for you and I’m going to help you I’m going to guide you I’m going to encourage you in your faith in Jesus and I’m gonna fight for your

nearness with Jesus and then you know saul he actually has some issues with some of his other friends which you know we all have issues with friends but um instead of choosing um one friend he chooses silas and he says silas you’re gonna be my Jesus centered friend for this time maybe he didn’t use that word those language but but paul and silas go through some really tough stuff together they partner in ministry and there is a moment in their story where they are sitting locked up in a prison cell and in that moment the two of them are fighting for nearness with christ they pull out an old hymns and they start to sing and worship God from that place they are fighting even in the hardest darkest time in their ministry to to fight to be connected with Jesus and to hope in him no matter if Jesus lets him out or if Jesus allows them

to finish their life in that space and then we even see paul reaching out to those who come after him he ends up pouring his life into a young man named timothy and he we have letters that are written to timothy in the bible and we see that paul wants to do the same thing that barnabas did for him by guiding him teaching him directing him encouraging him in the faith and fighting for his timothy’s nearness with christ so this is a whole scope of friendships that we can have and I think in all of them we can be Jesus centered we can have a relationship with above with Jesus because he this is the story of long ago so if you want to have a friendship with Jesus you just start talking to him he wants a friendship with you and you can learn more about who he is and what he’s done for you as you get to know him but just reach out to him

today because he wants to be your friend if you are in the journey and you need people that are more like a barnabas ahead of you on the journey maybe today is an invitation for you to start looking for who’s a little bit more mature on this journey who could who could help me and come alongside me and and help me fight for my nearness with christ but maybe you need people that are alongside you who do ministry and and do life together like a silas or maybe you need someone that comes after you you know I think it’s easy within the church to find friends that that are alongside us and we feel like we we think similarly and we want to we want to follow Jesus but then we kind of create a little holy huddle and and we just want to be friends with those who are friends of Jesus instead of reaching out to those who are less

developed in their faith and maybe they don’t serve you as much as you might want a friendship to but actually it does serve you because as you give of your faith and of your heart for Jesus to someone else who’s younger in their faith and you invite them along you feel like you’re a part of a greater story and you feel like your life and your life with Jesus really matters so I’m going to invite you to just take a moment to ask yourself which of these kind of friendships do you most need so all in all I think that Jesus centered friendships are rooted in an ancient story and you’re invited to join that story it changes our definition of friendship and it’s actually to fight for one’s nearness with christ we can enter those and we can endure those because they rest in a good gospel and we can be formed in christ’s likeness as they refine us if

this series has been resonating with you and you feel like man I need to do some work on my friendships and my relationships we would love to come alongside you we’re actually going to offer a class called emotionally healthy relationships and this is an eight-week class from march 7 to may 2nd so you’ve got three weeks to decide if you want to join us we’re going to have it during the second service and two counselors and myself a pastor are going to be present to you and help you navigate this journey and start looking at the way of friendship and we would love for you to sign on up register for that there will be a small fee for the books but we think that this will be a really valuable journey that we would love to take with you so as I conclude conclude I’m just going to go back to the apostle john’s words he says beloved if God so loved

us we ought to love one another no one has ever seen God but if we love one another God abides in us and his love is perfected in us friend making is risk-taking but I want to encourage you to be brave and to take risks to create those strong Jesus-centered friendships let’s pray father God king Jesus holy spirit we thank you so so much for reaching out and extending friendships to us we thank you that you invited us into this story and that you have allowed for a good gospel to let us rest in this God I don’t know where my friends are today in their friendships but I ask that you would help them create strong and abiding friendships that allow them to fight for nearness with christ lord open doors of friendship lord give give fruit to the

seeds of friendship that they plant today and beyond I pray this in your name amen

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Jesus-Centered Friendships | Building Strong Friendships (Part 3)2022-01-27T13:32:10-07:00

Jesus’ Example of Making Friends | Building Strong Friendships (Part 2)

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Good morning, friends. How you doing? Well, come to church, the Super Bowl Sunday. I’m glad to see as far as I can see, everyone’s resisted the temptation to wear any Kansas City cheap car or anything like that, and this is a Tom Brady church, nothing to do with a brush… Never you’re doing today, and whoever you’re cheering for, enjoy the game and have an in if you’re watching later on the line because you went skiing ’cause the 60 Ines have powder up there then… Good for you. Well, let’s get on with this. We’re talking about friendships, and I wanna start off by asking a question, How many of you would describe yourselves as technologically deficient… Okay, there’s some good honesty there, some of you are like, No, I’m a tech person, I’m great at it. Some of you are like, No, I’m gonna own this tech and I… No, we don’t go together. And that’s fine. What I wonder though, is this, whether it’s not that there’s everyone who’s just technologically deficient, what I wonder if is if it just depends on what tech we’re talking about, because there’s some technology from years ago, the people of today seem to struggle with a lot more and a lot clocks might be one example of this, just some people of a certain age that struggled with analog clocks, and about a year ago, the TV show host Ellen decided to take some millennials or Gen Z people and see how they handle some of these older pieces of technology.

So what she asked this young lady to do, she’s about 17 years old, and she’s so endearing about it, she said, What I want you to do is I want you to look up Golden buffalo in the phone book yellow pages, and I want you to place a call to them on a rotary phone, and this is what it looked like. So… She’s so endearing, right? And just the optimism with which he picks up the phone and just everyone laughing. I just like, Hello, and there’s nobody there. Of course, now, a reasonable question to this point might be, I thought we were talking about friendships and not technology, but as I watched this clip, I was like, This seems to me like a metaphor for some of our experiences with friendship, we feel like we’re working really hard, those loads of drama, those loads of activity, there’s all these different things and yeah, actually, that doesn’t seem like there’s many connections being made, there’s that kind of question like, am I connecting with anybody? Does anybody care or is everyone actually just like the audience, just pointing and laughing as I struggle to make my way through the world and to build these kind of relationships.

We looked at these three ideas last week that says that all say that the friendships are important, we started with this group of wisdom literature from the Bible, this was a guy called Solomon, the wisest man of His time, friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family, and we said that when you look through the Bible, there’s all of this language about friendship is important, it is necessary, and it’s not just the Bible, our own heart seem to say that I long for deep friendship. We looked at these wonderful TV shows from the last 50 years, and every one of them, they talk about friendship, but they don’t mirror our society, they reflect a deep longing for real friendships, we have shows like friends like… No, I like, I Love Lucy, like Cheers. Because we say, Well, that’s what we want. Not necessarily, because that’s what we have. And then finally, we talked about how psychologically there’s this crisis going on in America right now, so the average American has only two close friends, 20% of millennials age sort of now, 20 through to 38, say they have no friends, one out of three expressed regular feelings of loneliness, 87% said they made most of their friends in high school, the longlist group of men over 60 who had lost their spouse and social media was referenced as the main corporate does this tension that we observed that we long for deep friendships.

We see it in the Bible, we see it in our own hearts, we see it psychologically, and yet we find friendship, real friendship, to be a deeply difficult thing to navigate some of these sort of problems that I sort of observe… I observed as I was thinking this week, we are working hard but not creating or developing friendships, we are unsure which friendships to invest our time in, and we have good surface friendships, but few of those deep connections. I was chatting to a guy in his 20s this week, and this was the sort of the quote that he sent me, people are terrible at asking or even reciprocating a question I ask and honestly don’t think it’s their own fault. I think social media and social or socially cultural constructs have just made people batter conversation and intimacy, and most people don’t even realize it. If anything, as a nation, we don’t reflect the most popular animal in our nation, we reflect the second most popular animal in our nation. What’s the difference between cats and dogs? Dogs are deep and they are devoted to you and cats a surface and they are not devoted to you, a dog sees these people that look after it, that care for it, that love it, and they look at you and they say, These people are incredible.

They must be gods. And a cat, it seems this person that’s devoted to it, that looks after the car and it looks at itself and says, I must be a God, there’s something about cats and dogs that are wired differently, and so often we as people, we reflect cats with surface… Not necessarily committed to people or not able to find people necessarily that I committed to us, and so one of the desires behind the short three-week series was, How can we build deep friendships first, how can we start creating more of them, how can we remove some of those blockages create some pathways that would say, We can actually build some friendships, but then also how can we start to go to deeper levels of friendship, and so this week we’re gonna spend some time… Last week, we looked at this wisdom literature, this week we’re gonna spend some time learning from Jesus and wrestling with what he has to say about friendship, Jesus, example of friendship and his offer, a friendship ceramic ally alter how you pursue friendship with others. If you wanna write that down again, if you wanna take a picture, Jesus example, friendship and he’s offer a friend, it can radically alter how you pursue friendship with others.

As we wrestle with how Jesus interacted with people, my hope is that one, that you would know that he longs for friendship with you, but two, I hope that we would learn some principles that would help us to build some of those deep friendships that we’re talking about so let’s start here. How does Jesus describe? Friendship never uses the word a ton, but in this instance, we’re gonna start late in his story with people on earth, his friendships with people, and we’re gonna sort of track back to see where they come from. So this is John Chapter 15, Verse 15. We looked at it briefly last week, but we’re gonna get into it a bit deeper today. I no longer call you servants. Because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I’ve called you friends. For everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you. I no longer call you servants. Because a mass seven does not know his master’s business. Instead, I’ve called you friends. For everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you. This whole passage takes place right at the end of Jesus time in if he’s sitting down for a final conversation with his closest friends and he’s starting to out-pour everything that’s going to happen to him over the next week, Crucifixion resurrection.

One of those things, he has been journeying with these people for three years at this point, they’ve developed a relationship, but it’s only at this point that Jesus says, No, I now call you friends. This passage, it sort of works around these three very important words, and what we said last week is, nobody talks about Jesus miracle having 12 close friends in his 30s, and yet there’s a step further, I would take that if you are struggling with friendship, if you have questions about how you’re doing… Just know this, Jesus only had 12 friends, one of them wanted to kill him, and they constantly misunderstood everything that he said, So if your friendships reflect that, you’re doing okay as well. So these three words first, the word servant, he talks about, I no longer call you do less a servant with no ownership rights. Now we’re gonna talk about how we can copy Jesus in his friendship, little word to the wise, Do Not Call your friends servants, that does not go down. Well, Jesus could get away with some stuff that you don’t get to get away with that I don’t get to go to get away with, but then he talks about, now you no longer…

These do as you are now, fill us a friend. I invite you into this relationship of deep, personal connection, you are starting to understand me, I’m starting to understand you, and then this word in the middle… I no longer call you servants. And now call you friends. Because of this, the O, the business, the doing the work to Jesus, the difference between someone that he called friends and someone that he called servants, was that these guys now, they had a picture of what his heart was, you might say that this word PO at its casts, knowing the why behind the what, knowing the heart, these guys, after three years and now finally other point, but they actually understand what Jesus is all about, or getting close to it at least because as I said, there’s been three years of them constantly misunderstanding almost everything, that he was doing, they were always sort of behind what was going on, he knew them, he understood everything about them, but the… He was still a mystery to them, This is the calling. And we’re gonna look at a couple of these passages where Jesus picks up these guys, friends for the first time, he starts this journey with them, this is a guy called a fail, Philip found arterial and told him, we found the one Moses wrote about in the law.

And a bathroom, the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, Nazareth. Can anything good come from there? And the fan you’ll ask a family is very skeptical that Jesus could be anything like as great as Philip has described to him, but he is still willing to give him a chance. And this is the introduction. Demons said, feline, Jesus Santana approaching. He said of him, here truly isn’t is related. In whom there is no deceit. How do you know me? The fund you asked, Jesus answered, I saw you while you were still under a fig tree Before Philip called you, Jesus had this instinctive knowledge of everything about Nathaniel before they’d even encountered each other, but to defend your… Jesus is still a mystery. They still uncertainty, you’ll make this incredible faith statement in the next passage, you’ll talk about You are the Messiah, the Son of God, but then he’ll go back and doubt it, as they all did at different points, this three years is this passage way, this journey of Jesus revealing His heart to views, follow us, they start to get to know who he is on a deeper level, this is a passage in John chapter 6, where he’ll start to unpack some of just who He is aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them? Does this offend you? Then what if you see the son of man ascend to where he was before? The spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing.

The words I have spoken to you, they are full of spirit and life. Jesus has unpacked his mission and packed his goal, and I also talked about some of the cost of following him as well, and it’s at this point that this bigger group of disciples starts to kind of question what we carry on, is it really worth the cost of following Jesus and the things he’s saying really true, some of the things are… Are pretty outlandish. He says things like, my body is real food, my blood is real, drink stuff that, again, most people don’t get away with, and it’s at this point, there’s this to decision moment, Jesus starts to reveal His heart, starts to review more about his identity, and this huge group of disciples say, No, you’ve gone too far. Jesus vulnerability, you self-reveal to them, It’s too much I can’t… I can’t handle this. And they go. From this time, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. You do not want to leave too, do you, Jesus, as the 12st answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have comfortable even to know that you are the holy one of God, the small group of disciples sees something in Jesus and say, As I have Landis, as the statements are as over the top as they might seem, the only thing…

The only conclusion I can draw is this you are who you say you are. The statements are fine, if they are true, if they’re not, it’s the language of a crazy person, the language of an insane person does this divide and most of the people land on no, Jesus, you’re out of your mind, you’re crazy, and they go… And then the smaller group stay, it’s this moment of vulnerability and moments like it that make the difference between the servants that Jesus described and the friends that he’ll follow this journey with later. And I would say this, we can learn this from Jesus, a journey of friendship, it always requires some vulnerability, if you want friendship, if you wanna go deep into friendship, you have to reveal something about yourself, surface level relationships will stay surface, unless we get to reveal some of that heart, some of that heartbeat, some of that who we are, the way we described it earlier was that the why behind the what? Knowing the heart somewhere to go deep into friendship, we have to start to become a little more vulnerable, and that’s scary, that’s intimidating, especially if you’ve been through a journey where friendship has hurt you before, any time you start to show more of yourself in a relationship, it’s difficult, and here’s what I would say as a generalization.

And I love generalizations. Girls are better at this than guys, guys, as a whole struggle with vulnerability, you cannot use silence as like a spiritual gift, it doesn’t clerk that way, there is this journey of relationship that requires us as guys to reveal more of ourselves, to become more vulnerable, and that’s difficult for me. I know that there’s times where I come back from work, I come back from a day in the office, I come from a day of planning and praying and thinking and all these different things, and actually I just wanna sit and do nothing. And my wife wants to unpack the day with me, and I resist because I just want to stop and rest, and there’s this tension to be managed there as well, because my needs are important too, but I know that she needs me to reveal something, and I had this wonderful story that AR and I worship, shared with me the other day that just defines me or unpack some of guys struggle with this is a wonderful comedian story about a couple that are friends with another couple who have just gone through a divorce, which is always sad and heartbreaking, and finally, after a six-month gap, the guy happens to go and play golf with a guy that has become divorced, and he comes back after six months of neither of them seeing this other couple, and his wife obviously is hungry for information, so she says, Well, how’s he doing? And the guy says, Well, what do you mean by that? He says, Well, Nick.

You got divorced six months ago. How is he? A man says, Well, I don’t really know. I mean, he shot a 74, if that tells you anything, it seems like he’s doing fairly well, and she’s like, You is seeing anybody using easy dating anybody? I don’t really know, it just… Just didn’t come… You dip golf. We’ve Mike, didn’t you for four hours today you were in the same golf cart up… I was in the same golf cart, I know he has a new driver that seemed pretty nice, it was working out pretty good for him, and so in four hours, you didn’t ask a tool… Is he dating anybody? Now, I just don’t see how that would have come up during a golf game, it’s just… If you see some of the tension, we are wired differently often as men and women, but relationships take this movement into vulnerability, they take this willingness to reveal some of your heart, it takes vulnerability, and as we said last week, and this will be a constant refrain throughout these three short weeks, friend making is risk taking, the start of friendship involves risk, to deepen that friendship involves risk, if you were to say that friend making is risk-taken, you might say that deep friend making is therefore deep risk-taking, it requires going to another level of vulnerability.

So a question as we move on, how does pursuing friendship with Jesus alter our friendship, because that is the wonderful sort of truth that we always come back to every week itself, you are invited into friendship with Jesus, all of the needs of friendship that we talked about all of the importance of it is true, whether you are following Jesus on that, better friendships will help you in your life, it will help you on your journey. It’s good to have good friends. And yet you’re also invited into this wonderful friendship with Jesus, the joy of friendship with Jesus is that He is wonderful. When we are vulnerable all through these biographies of Jesus life, you see these moments where people come to human vulnerability, and every single time he makes them feel valued, he receives them well, he treats them well, Jesus invites you into that relationship of friendship with him. But as well as that, I would also see a friendship with Jesus, but it also, it informs and interferes with how we do friendship as well, we get to learn some stuff, we get to see some of the ways that he is vulnerable.

We just talked about that, but it also messes with our friendships as well, I’ve known so many people over the years that have made a decision to follow Jesus and started to develop different kinds of friendships, and then there’s this tension when these two worlds merge, what happens when my world outside of the church starts to merge with my world inside the church, what happens when these two communities… Crime collide. And so for the next few minutes, we’re gonna take a look into another story of Jesus first encounter with one of his disciples, a guy called Matthew. As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. So automatically that tells a discerning audience something about… Matthew, I pick this picture because it was just the one that was available online. Everything looks better when you do it in LEGO, we have Batman and Robin and Snoopy and all at earlier. Now, we’re talking… Let go for a second, Jesus approaches Matthew and says, Come with me, but he approaches him at a tax collector’s booth. Automatically, that tells us this, Matthew is an outcast. Matthew is not wanted by his own Jewish community, Matthew is someone who has chosen to side with his invading army, these Romans that have been dominating Israel for some years, Matthew is somebody that is not desirable, not wanted by his own people, and Jesus causing…

Anyway, As Jesus went on from there, He saw remained Matthew sitting at a tax Leeds booth. Follow me, He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him. Now, this whole process is fascinating because this is very much a traditional Rabbi practice, these rabbis would wander around the country side and they would collect, follow us, but most of the time, rabbis chose like the cream of the crop, they chose the best people. So as a young Jewish person, you would go through education, you would go up to the age of 11, and then they would do like the classic school sports system of cuts, so they would say for certain group you guys, no good… You didn’t even make JV, you go and you do your thing and a trade be with your parents, and then the next cut would happen somewhere around to the 16, 18, another group. No, you’re not quite gonna make it, you’re not smart enough, you’re not the best, so you go off and you do your thing, and then finally the very best students would get to continue to pursue education until about 30, at which point they would start calling students of their own Jesus, when he starts his ministry, is it exactly that age, he’s probably been through some classical rabbinical education and he’s now calling his own disciples, that he goes and pick guys that have already been come, he picks guys that nobody else wants it.

In essence, if the varsity coach went back and he found all the guys that have been cut in the first stage of the tray out and said, No, I’m gonna take you guys… You guys come with me. He goes in picks. No other Rabbi was going, picking people like Matthew, Matthew is an outcast. And what the rabbi would do is he would go and he would say this phrase that was something like this in English, Take My yoke upon you, and the guy would say either yes or no, and they would begin this journey, so picture this classic set of old school farming technique, this is an Open O, and what would happen in the farming world is this, they would put a strong ox with a weaker Act, so the strong or would control where the week oxen, He would learn this process of being an action, what it was to farm and all those different things from the stronger as… This is exactly what happened in this rabbinical training process. When it says, Take My yoke upon you it, follow me, do the things I do. Copy me with my other followers, Jesus gathers this group of followers and they are all copying him, but they are all doing this together.

0That means the Matthew now… Well, he has two communities, he has two groups of people, he has this one group of people is invited into a new community of Jesus followers who will instinctively despise him and with whom he has very little commonality, they have nothing practically in common other than the fact they were born Jewish. These guys are… Some of them are zealots, they’ve sort of stood up to this Roman army, these guys are… Some of them are fishermen, but most of them have stayed pretty faithful to this Jewish community, Math used the traitor Matthews the outside, Matthew is the one that said, I can make some extra cash if eye sided with the Romans, who’s the one that’s gone against everybody else. So he now has this community that Jesus invites him into, and yet instinctively they were despise him, instinctively, he’s not welcome, and then he has this other community of people exactly like him, he has a pre-existing community that may not reflect the way of Jesus, but with whom we share great commonality, they have all of the same things in common, and that tension is present all over the world, when we decide to follow Jesus, you have this movement from a…

Now, have a community of people. South is your community of people… Now, some of you may have been here so long that you have most of things in common with the people here, but if you’re new, does this tent moment where you start to spend time with a community of faith, and you say, This is now my community, but really practically, what do we have in common? We like different things, we have different backgrounds, different experiences. All of those things going on, and then we probably have, hopefully have this other group of friends, maybe work friends may be old school friends, and with them we have a ton in common, and yet there’s this new thing that we get to share with this community of faith that is bigger than all of those things. We, Jesus in common, this huge thing that over-arches everything, so let’s leave a… Look what happens. How does Matthew deal with this tension? Because it is a tension. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples. Mathews new community is Jesus following community, is cyclades with his old community.

He just invites them all in, it just says, Come and join it, when the Paris… You saw this, they asked His disciples, Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? And hearing this, Jesus said It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, but go and learn what this means. I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners. And this is the version in the New Living Translation, for I have come to call not compile those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners, Neither Jesus or Matthew appears slightly concerned when both communities lie… Both. Communities are important and have value. I remember this incredibly honest conversation I had with a friend of mine, I was running a small group, and one of the young guys in the small group said to me this, I have no desire to bring friends that don’t know Jesus to church with me. It’s just awkward when I do. There’s this tension between the people that are following him and the people that aren’t, and when I’m at church, I just wanna be with my church friends, I just wanna be with that community, and when I’m out doing other things, I wanna be with those guys and I don’t want to bring the two together.

And yet, it seems in this story, Jesus ideal is that the two communities, eventually they have to fly it, Jesus is pretty open about the fact that his desires, but everybody to be in relationship with him, that doesn’t play particularly well, maybe in a modern world that says Everyone just gets to decide from themselves, you get to decide what has value in, and for the most part, you do get to decide, but Jesus is pretty unashamed of the fact that he says, You all need this relationship with me, I’m inviting everybody into a relationship with me, and he’s fairly unapologetic as well, in the method by which he’ll do that, which is you and his eye… It doesn’t seem like Jesus is a particularly big fan of plan Bs, it seems like plan A is that I won’t show people my way in my heart, and then you’ll go and show it to other people, that’s been the plan from the beginning, and that’s the plan that we see in effect with Matthew, which raises a tension point for me because we talked last week about the value of good friends… This is a quote, create Grace.

Show me your friends and I will show you your future. I think that’s truth in that… We talked about the Jim Rowan idea that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You become like them, you’ll be somewhere in the middle of them in terms of their health, in terms of their… Well, for those different things, I believe that this truth in that my sister humorously, she text me after I said that and she said, Well, how does that help me at the people I spend the most time with, my three kids who are all under the age of 10 and my husband who acts like a kid under the age of 10, so what does that do for me in terms of my future, but there is this idea that surround yourself with people that are going where you want to go, and you’ll probably get there in this incredible value, and yet what happens to the fact that in this Matthew story, Jesus cause Matthew to bring his friends along on this journey of leading them into a relationship with him, this is imperative on that, that says, you have a method by which I will reach the world, you have to get involved.

If you just ditch these friends because they might all do want a journey that is unhealthy, what happens to that group of people? If Matthew just says, You guys, my tax collector friends, you’re not gonna get me where I need to go. If I spend time with you, then I’ll become the average of the five of you. And that’s not where I want to be. What happens to those guys if that’s the decision-making process. Fortunately for us, Matthew seems like he makes a good choice, but this idea that the one who has unreliable friend students come to ruin, but there… Is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. This Proverbs idea, we talked about last week, it at least has some tension to it, show me your friends and I will show you you your future. I would put a big question mark over that, because I think you need friends outside of self, that’s the method by which Jesus said he would reach the world. And if your only friendships are here, then how does that happen? If my only friendships are in this building, then how does that happen? It seems Jesus has always used friendships outside of the church community to reach those outside the church, can you…

Now, let me just give a little caveat to that, I’m not saying for a second that you should only have friends outside of church for that reason, in actual fact, I think there’s this definite idea that Jesus enjoyed relationships with people outside of his own little community and that they enjoyed time with him as well, so I would say that it’s not the only purpose, but I think fine, pursue deep friendships with those who will lead you into good future pathways, that’s the JIM Ron idea. Find friends that will help you move towards this preferred future. That’s great. But think about all of those relationships that you have outside of here, that I hope that we have outside of here, maybe we’re supposed to pursue good future pathways for those with whom we have a friendship. Maybe the thing is that, yes, the five people that you spend the most time with is true, but maybe also you get to be the one that influences the direction of the group, maybe God has a calling for you, there maybe there’s this purpose with richer, you get to live with friendships or over the place, and you’re constantly gonna be doing that thing that Jesus has built his church on all along, my dream for self is that we become a place that reaches people that don’t know Jesus.

That’s what we are here for. Yes, it’s great that we get to learn together and grow together and be together, yes, it’s great that we get to develop this hard and way of Jesus… But I would suggest that when we look at that Matthew story, Jesus reveals his heart there. I have come from the sick, not the healthy, I have come from those that know that they need a doctor, that has always been his purpose, if we have gotten to a point where all of our friendships slowly become only in this place, and something’s gone wrong, friends, our calling has always, always, always been to those that are outside, always been to those that are in need, so I have a couple of questions for reflection, I’m gonna invite the worship team to come back up on stage. My first question is this, How is Jesus calling you to pursue friendship with others? We’ve talked about the tension and maybe that the step for you is to create new friendships, to step out and start some new friendships, but it may also to be asked to be to ask, who am I building deeper friendships with over this next season of life.

Who can I take on this journey with me? Who can I walk alongside? Who can I make myself vulnerable to, who can I show my heart too? And who can I grow in? A friend making is risk-taking, then deep friend making will feel like deep risk-taking, but without those risks, I wonder if have friendships just always stay where we were with that phone call, we stay at that point of… Feel like I’m making a lot of effort, but maybe I’m not building the connections that I want to build. How is Jesus calling you to pursue friendship with others. Friendship is this wonderful gift to the world that provide support as we walk through this journey of life are… And the team are gonna lead us in this song, and then I’m gonna ask you a second question after the song.

Jesus’ Example of Making Friends | Building Strong Friendships (Part 2)2021-04-20T13:10:30-06:00

How to Make Friends | Building Strong Friendships (Part 1)

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Hey friends, how’re you doing… splendid. So we begin a new series in his serious Sunday. I always love New serious Sunday. It’s like gets me excited, I’m like, There’s a new thing happening, and this serious, while it may not be the most… And I’m gonna use the word carefully, the most spiritual a series that we will do this year, I actually think that for south, it might be actually the most beneficial series that you might actually learn more and this might impact your life more than any other series, we do this year in a few weeks, we’ll be in talent will be going verse by verse through the Book of Ruth for those that you love, that you’ll enjoy that series, but this, we’re gonna get a little more topic or we’re gonna talk about building strong friendships, so let me start here, have you ever used a word or had somebody else use a word rather, and after a while, you become convinced that they’re using it in a way that you wouldn’t use it or in an incorrect manner, which may be the same thing for a lot of us like we tend to think, you know, how we use it is always the correct way.

You might imagine that for me coming over here from the mothership a few years ago, that it happens fairly after, so I remember the first time being here visiting my wife when we were still dating, she took me to Panera Bread every day experience for you guys knew for me, and I remember standing in the queue on line and waiting for the lady to serve me, and she said to me, What do you want with your sandwich? And I said, Well, what are the options? Just enlighten me. What can I have? And she said, Well, you could have an Apple or you could have a piece of bread, or you could have some chips, and my face lit up, I was delighted because I was picturing something like this, I was like, suddenly, we’re not talking about a sandwich anymore, talking about a banquet where like expanding our whole expectation of the meal, this has gone from good to great, escalated quickly, and then imagine my disappointment or even you might say outrage in what I was presented with was this baggage just potato crisps, as I would correctly call them, more chips, as you would call them, there’s that experience, right? You like, Oh, this is…

Thrown me off completely. Something is wrong here. I wonder whether the way that we use the word friend is suffering from a similar sort of experience, I wonder whether there’s a whole group of us maybe that using the word to mean something that had never really meant… I took a look before this seminar in my Facebook profile and found that I have 1289 friends, now, that number’s higher than it probably should be, it’s also lower than it could be, because I don’t really use Facebook, I consider myself beyond it to… Cool for it. All those different things. And so I just accept everybody that asks me to be their friend, much to my wife’s annoyance, he regularly says, you should be more discerning in your friendship, but if I see a thing that says someone had to do as a friend, I click confirm and I’m done I never add anyone myself ’cause I’m really on there to add anybody. Now, I’m deeply afraid that one of you might have valuable Facebook and have said Yes, and you like what’s wrong with me, but this is in friendship. Right, the things that we put on Facebook, you might put something about a meal you wait wood, you 20 years ago have called all of your friends and told them what you’d eat and for dinner…

Absolutely, no, you wouldn’t. You look ridiculous. And Italy, so there’s been this change in what we term friendship, and it’s largely driven by social media sites like Facebook, were in this tension point between what is really a friend and How do we fulfill what I would suggest… And I’ll show you this in a second, is a longing for friendship, so… Let’s go here for a second. Picture in your mind, what is the most iconic TV show about friendship, this is gonna date you, particularly like this will put you in a certain generation or tell us where you belong, because I had a couple of different things shouted out. So for some of you, maybe it’s this… I Love Lucy. Two couples living in the same house, they got this great friendship going on, all these different things, so you’ve got the eye of Lucy crowd, I’m not gonna give you an age that wouldn’t be fair, but then we’ve got this group, the cheers group. Everybody knows your name. It’s the police. You get to go and hang out. You always feel welcome, you find belonging and all those different things, and then of course, we’ve got the friends, New York City, this group of impossibly good-looking people, even the ones that aren’t supposed to be good looking or good looking, they always hang out.

They always have a couch available in a coffee shop, and we all know that’s just not reality. Every time I go to the coffee shop, the CO1 is really available for them, always seeming you reserved, and then maybe we’ve got some people that would say, Maybe this show is what you would think about his friendship, this is new girl, a girl moves to an apartment with three guys, they become best friends. They do everything together. What do every one of these seasons connect over? What do they have in common? Yes. Friendship, obviously, that’s in the sermon series title. Good job, guys. If you said friendship, it’s like your friendship, but something more right here, this deep friendship that you might say, replaces, family… These guys live away from their families, most of them live in situations maybe like lots of us, how many of you guys would describe yourself as a Denver native, like you grew up here in the first service, we were like 50% in this vice, I’d say maybe 10%, we are a transplant community, so we get where these guys are at, these are all people that have moved into an area and now they’re looking for that deep sense of friendship, they’re looking for belonging.

They are looking for family. This shows reflect, they reflect a longing for friendship. We desire it. We crave it. Actually, characters like Mr. Ron Swanson here from Parks and Rec, as say things like friends, one to three is sufficient. It’s us because we don’t believe it’s true, something tells us that we need more back up then, that we need more people around us than that we are looking for a bigger group of people to core friends, and we live in this community that needs it. This is a little poem called transient, it reflects some of our culture today, look at the last verse, rivers and black top overshadow, streams and footpaths, the only cultures that revere their elders have no freeways, this guy reflects a longing for a culture that the Bible would understand very well, and that’s some of our tension as we learn about friendship, because most of the Bible was written in an era where people didn’t move away, it just wasn’t practical, you stayed in the town or area you lived for almost all of your life, Jesus never traveled more than 200 miles away from the town that he was born in, and so you see that there’s this tension like how can the Bible help us to reflect on friendship in a time when we actually need something different than they need it now.

Here’s the fortunate thing, what I believe about the Bible, and many of you would join me, and if you’re not there yet, that’s fine, that is the God breathed on this book that he provided it for us to learn from, and so it’s wise even beyond its culture even beyond its age, it gives us stuff even when it’s from a different era altogether, so I expect we’ll find a chunk of stuff in there, despite all of that longing, that deep desire for friendship and those TV shows, I would suggest they don’t reflect society, they reflect our longings for society, we are maybe in a friendship crisis in America, little digging, little research it, the average American has only two close friends. Your run ansons, 20% of millennials say they have no friends. One out of three expressed regular feelings of loneliness, 87% said that they made most of their friends in high school, put that in your back Barnett. Come up again a little bit later. The lone list group of men over 60 who had lost their spouse, suddenly experienced that most of their friends were made by their wife and maybe it really their friends at A…

And then the study said social media was the main corporate, they found that the less time you spend on social media, not only the happier you were, but the more connected to your actual friends you fell after that season. We long to find deep friendship, it’s reflective in all those TV shows, and yet we find friendship deeply difficult. Does this tension… Now, if you’ve got it all figured out, you can pause this week, and if you find it easy to make friends, if you’ve got this covered, that’s great, but if you’re in that group that says, Well, I find it awkward to make new friends, but I also find it awkward to take those groups of friends and make them those deep, long relationships that I long for. Then hopefully, this will move us along, and to do that, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna give us some struggles and I’m gonna throw some potential solutions at us as well, but first, what does the Bible say about friendship, if it talks about it at all. Fortunately, lots, this is all gonna come from a section of the Bible that is called wisdom literature, it’s ran most of it about 3000 years ago, most of it by a guy called Solomon, who was known as the wisest man alive at his time.

And this is the first one, Ecclesiastes Chapter 42. A better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up, but Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Proverb 1717, a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity, and then Proverbs 18-24, this is in a version called The Message, friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family… Doesn’t that hit the tension point we’re talking about, we long for those things that go beyond just friendship, but move into the realm of family, we long for those friendships that are deep. When we were talking as a staff, just a few days ago, we started to talk through South values, for those of you that are new, you can see our values out on the war, the six of them… They’re very important to us, but the question I asked was this, which of them would you say landed more in the aspirational value, then something will practically see… And the one that I felt came up time and time again was the word family…

Family is a great value to have. And some of you have found family at South, some of you have been here for 20 years and you’re in the same small group you were when you started, and that’s a wonderful thing, but others of you are new and you… You feel like you’re in on the fringes, but the question becomes, Well, how do I build deep relationships here? How do I get further in? How do I feel like I really belong? When we talked about our encounter, as many of us that have been here for a mixture of four months, in my case, through to 20 years in DANS, got this different range of people, what we found is that when we expressed how South was family to us, we talked in the realm of extended family, you know, there’s great people you see every now and again, you get to hang out with them, it’s awesome. And then you say, pray, we’ll see even so and so’s birthday in a few months, but you don’t maybe talk much in between them, that’s what we kind of felt our relationship with sales, but then we talked about how we interacted with our biological family, I talked about living back in England, and I would hang out at my parents house with my brothers and sisters, and then I would say What, I’m going home now, but I’ll probably call you, but when I get home to let you know that I got home safely and then I’ll probably see you at some point during the week ’cause we’re going walking and then we’re having a barbecue on, and it’s just that repeated pattern of regular interaction in people’s lives, and we said That’s what we feel like we want, but it’s something at the moment that we don’t have… When the Bible talks about real friendship, I would suggest it doesn’t agree with the Facebook definition of friendship, but it’s talking more about that deep, long lasting friendship that changes lives as you live lives together, we long to find deep friendship. Refine, friendship, deeply difficult. I’m sure all of you can think of reasons that you don’t have those friends, longings that you did have those friends, all the things that come up that stop that happening, and hopefully as we stay surface level for this week, we will be able to sort of cover a few of those. So here we go, struggle number one. Our priorities change. How many of you in the room are over the age of 28… That’s a lot of us, right? So something happens when you get to this age. Somewhere in your mid to late 20s, think for a second about how you made friends at school… I remember the first friend I made at school, I slid down the slide first, he slipped down the slide second, and then we were friends, it just was that simple, we were then inseparable for the next however many years, most of the friendships you make through college, a water-called accidental friendships.

You happen to be in the same time and place as these people, and they’re all beautiful and hilarious and wonderful, and they have endless energy to spend time with you as well, and so you get thrown together and these wonderful friendships develop. And then something happens. Suddenly you start to change. And so there’s all these wonderful sort of stories that reflect some aspects of friendship, once you get over 28, nobody talks about Jesus miracle of having 12 close friends in his third is… There’s something about the lab, you don’t see people that have those kind of things. I remember when I used to sneak out of the house to go to parties, now I sneak out of parties to go to my house, times have changed this, there’s this movement when maybe I can’t put a finger on it, but something in us is changing, and it’s this A priorities and now give towards security rather than variety were making life happens. We’re doing well in our profession, we’re looking for promotion, we’re trying to earn more money so we can maybe buy a house… Were raising kids and doing all the things that come with that.

We just find ourselves more and more occupied and something has to give, and so often that thing is friendship, everyone seemed so busy. Someone, in response to this question of this, it’s right at that point, he, I’m most competent, that we seem to find the fewest people who actually care about just how amazing we’ve become… It’s true, right? That’s what makes it funny. Some of the tension is the amount that we feel like we have to work… This is an A criticism, this is just an observation. At least 134 countries have laws setting the maximum length of a work week, the US doesn’t… Americans work 137 more hours per… Than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per… And British workers and 499 more house than French workers. There’s a choice that we make for our affluent lifestyle for having more money, for being the richest economy in the world, it’s not to say it’s good or bad, but it’s to observe that we make a decision when something has to give the thing that often has to give his friendship. This is a list of how many statutory days paid vacation each western nation and the world gets theirs us over there on the right with zero, there’s Japan with Tam, Canada with 90.

And every other nation in the Western world has at least 20 days where they said, Go away, do something fun, and know that you’re getting paid to do it. There’s a cost to the way that we choose to do life, and often it’s friendship now, that’s actually okay. Times change, seasons change, this is from our wisdom literature from Ecclesiastes chapter three, verse one, there was a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. It’s okay to change, there’s times for different things in your life, but if you want to keep friendship as a significant part, what that tells us is you’re going to have to be intentional to do it, if you’re no longer five and can’t just jump on a slide and know that you have a friend. Because you did that, we did have a slide put in into the kid’s ministry wing, but I asked Amy and she said, None of you guys are allowed to use it. I’m allowed to use it. So here we go, a potential solution number one, what do we do about the struggle of a changing priorities? It does mean you have to be intentional.

And not accidental, you might have to plan out time to make new friends, it sounds horribly station Boring, doesn’t it have to think about planning something that should feel so organic, and yet the reality is with everything else being so busy and less, you put down times that you’re going to do that unless you think about practical ways that you’re going to do that, you will not do it, and 20 years from now you’ll be about how you could have made friends that didn’t… It takes a practical choice, it might mean joining a meet-up group and interacting with some new people, it might mean saying no to some people that you spend lots of time with, to spend time with someone differently might mean by passing someone on the way to your car and choosing to have a conversation with someone new, but it seems like with all of the things going on with our changing priorities, intentional practice is the thing that is needed to make new friendships. Struggle number two, and we’re gonna get a little more psychological here, we are in certain of our value, we wonder if we lack something, we’re gonna root into an old story for a few minutes, it’s gonna cover the next two struggles that I think we face.

We’re gonna route into this old story in Genesis chapter three, you might know it as the fall of man, it’s the moment where Adam and Eve have this encounter with a famous apple, which really just says fruit could have been an apple, but it could have been something else as well, and look at some of the sort of psychology in play here now. The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals, the Lord got he made. He said to the woman, did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden? The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But God did say you must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will be. You will not certainly die, the servant said to the woman, for God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. The message for woman is, you are not enough, you lack something, you are missing something, there’s something about you that doesn’t meet the standard, you are not really valuable, and the thing he tells her that she can do that will make it valuable is to eat this apple and then she says in that moment, you’ll be like, God, here’s the problem with this whole story, and you may be outside of the Jesus story, you may not be sure about committing to this, you may think of, this is a myth.

And what I would say to you is this, well, a myth isn’t something that’s not true, a myth is something that sometimes actually historically true, but he’s always spiritually true. I would suggest this story, wherever you stand on its reality is very revealing of some of our personality traits and some of our struggles, this woman is told that if you eat this apple, you’ll be like God, but if you go back further in the story already is we’re told in these early parts of Genesis that you and I as human beings, we are made in God’s image, that is what makes life so spectacular from the moment of conception all the way through it, is this wonderful thing that has incredible value and dignity to it, and she’s told you, don’t add up, you’re not enough, you’re not valuable as a person already was… The great lie is that we don’t have and not what we already have, and already you are made in God’s image with all of your quirks, with all of your weirdness, with all of your oddities, with all of my quirks and weariness and oddities. I made in God’s image. I am inherently valuable, and so are you, but so often we believe the life that we don’t have and are not…

What we already have and already are. Are you broken? In some ways, yes. Do you have struggles? In some ways, yes, absolutely. Does Jesus story means something? Does it, is it necessary for him to come and do this redemption thing and fix is… Absolutely, that is part of a story, and yet still even in your broken state, God says, I made you in my image, you… You are valuable, you are valuable. Potential solution to Number Two, remind yourself that you’re made by God in his image for good things, you may have to tell yourself that time after time after time, before you come to believe it, that you are valued, you are valuable. Struggle number three, and this is connected, we have terrified of rejection. Laura and I regularly look at each other and say, What would you do if you had to start dating again? And the truth is, we both acknowledge would be kind of like deer in the headlights, it’s just been so long since we’re very comfortable with the fact that we found each other and we are together, and that’s a wonderful thing. And so for those of you are still in the dating world, you have my support, sympathy or those different things…

It must be so difficult. The same element though, that tells us we don’t wanna be rejected when we ask someone out on a date, I still is in play when we ask people to be friends, when we approach someone with the idea of friendship, we, I think are a group of people that are often terrified of rejection, and that connects to the Genesis story as well, because while you’ve believed this lie and Adam believes the slide that they are not valuable, that they are not enough, they also come to realize that they have to hide parts of who they are because they may be rejected for not what they are not, but what they actually are, when people see under the surface, maybe they’ll see something so broken, so twisted and ugly that nobody will want to encounter them. Look at this, this is a little snippet of the story before the whole Apple incident, Adam and his wife were both needed, and he felt no shame, nothing to hide. Everything is okay, I can show myself to the world. Now, I’m not advocating for group nudity or anything like that, just to be aware of that kind of thing, we had a bathing suit thing come up the other week and just we’re not going there, but look what happens after the whole Apple thing, then the man and is why I’ve heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the GAR in the cool of the day.

And he heard from the Lord God among the trees of the garden, but the Lord God called to the man, Where are you? He answered, I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid. And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to? You from for the first time, this seems like this practice that God has of walking in the garden in this ancient story with this man who is his friend for the first time the man hides… For the first time, he has something about him that he doesn’t like, that he questions, and so he pulls himself away, he covers himself up and it doesn’t just affect how they interact, we’ve got it, and it affects how they interact with everybody. So God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Suddenly, there’s this tendency to hide, and I think so much of our fear of rejection comes from the idea of what will happen when people really know me, what will happen when I have to show who I really am? They might like me on the surface, they might like me at first encounter, but if they knew the brokenness, if they knew the heart, if they knew the struggle within me, after a while, there’s no one, no one that will stick with me through that.

We experienced this deep fear of rejection, solution number three, maybe you have to learn to not assume worst case scenarios. Have you ever done that sort of story-building in your head, you start to imagine what’s gonna happen as the relationship develops, you start to imagine the next step, often with so many multiple scenarios, and none of them can all be true at the same time, and yet we build this cataclysmic story for ourselves about what our future will look like, and it’s very rarely reality, most of the time when we picture the future and it’s awful, it’s because we don’t imagine God in our future with us, but often we don’t even imagine good things in our future, full stop, we can be people that are terrified about what will happen eventually, doses case scenarios, but also maybe you need to know the friendship, it does make us vulnerable, if we wanna pursue true and real deep friendships, people will have to see the inside of you, there are ways that you have to be transparent that maybe you don’t… On the surface, friendship will cost you something. Struggle number four we expect too much or you expect it too soon.

I found this picture of a group of friends and there’s something wrong with the picture, take a second and see if you can spot it, they’re all wonderfully good looking people, they all look very happy, The sky is blue, the trees are green, everything’s going right, they’re all dressed nicely in a sort of like their white… Whatever trend that is going on. But there’s something wrong, there’s no sweat stains, there’s no perspiration, there’s nothing… Everyone’s dry as you like, everyone looks fresh and clean, and all those different things, our assumptions about what friendship looked like often colored by the idea of everyone should look perfect or be perfect, even when we know that we’re not… Somewhere, going into this whole friendship thing, we have to go with the expectation that the people we met will not always meet all of our ideas, they will be broken in some ways, they will sweat at times, and that’s okay because you and I do as well. I love how Jesus approach his friendship, he has this fascinating way of talking about friendship that is both serve, he welcomes people in, but he also keeps someone harms length. It’s fascinating, this is what he says to his 12 disciples, right at the end of his time, and he…

Just before the crucifixion in John 50, He says, I no longer call you servants. Because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I’ve called you friends for everything that I learned from my Father, I have made known to you. Jesus has been with them for three years at this point, and this is the first time he says that their friends… He’s very discerning in terms of how he chooses to bring people into that tight… In a circle, he is friendly. Yes, people encountered him and loved him, It seems instantly there was something about him that was magnetic and charismatic and all those different things, and yet three years is what it took for these disciples, these followers have his to move from servants or disciples or any of those things to this deep level of friendship, he takes his time and he chooses wisely, but then something else for a fine magical about Jesus. Once you’re in, it seems he’s very good at forgiveness and maybe we should expect… Right, but that’s why we’re trying to learn from him because he’s the master of all this stuff. This is his interaction with his treacherous disciple Judas right before he’s arrested.

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the 12 arrived with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs. Sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now, the betray had arranged to signal with them the one I kisses the man, arrest him. Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, Greetings, Rabbi and kissed him. Jesus replied, Do what you came for. Friend, do what you came for. Friend, I can think of a ton of other words that I would have used in Jesus place and none of them a friend, many of them are words that I cannot use on stage and keep my job there, just the words that… This doesn’t afraid. You’re my friend, still in amongst all of this betrayal, He looks at Judas and causing his friend Jesus, He’s both discerning as to how he invites people into this level of friendship, and he seems careful with the turn, and yet once you’re in, he’s so forgiving and gracious it’s inspiring due to story ends badly, but maybe simply because Judas can’t accept forgiveness, not because Jesus can’t offer it, Jesus looks at this disciple who is betraying him, who was offering him a kiss, and he calls him friend, potential solution number four to this idea that we expect too much and we expect it too soon, maybe you need to invest for relationships for the long term, but know that it will require patience and it will require forgiveness, think back to those TV shows, almost every episode that we watched, they involve some kind of scenario where someone falls out with someone, the magic, the thing that keeps us coming back as they always find ways to put the friendship back together, the journey continues on and in real life, that’s true as well, friendship requires this constant practice of forgiveness and grace.

Struggle number five. This is our last one. We have made poor friendship choices, maybe it’s in the past, maybe it’s in the present. I can remember choosing my first group of like, you know that first moment, you choose your school friends, and there were two groups that were… That were interested in my friendship, one was the really cool kid group, they were all the people that you would call the beautiful people, the funny people, they were the guys that ever I wanted to hang out with, and I was easily the least cool of this group I was like the bottom of the pile guy, and then there was this other group that were actually really smart and made really good choices, really kind, really generous, and I was pretty popular in that group, I was like, you know, somewhere in the… When people wanted to hang out with, and I chose the first one. What did that mean for the next few years in my life, it meant that I hung out with a group of people that constantly influenced me instead of me influencing them, a man, that they could get me to do almost anything that they wanted me to do, and often things that I actually didn’t want to do for a while.

My life took this path that I tell you stories of at different points, but he was a path of brokenness and struggling, it was messy, it was ugly, it was risky as dangerous, all of those different things, and it began with this moment where I made friendship choices that were… That were poor. Maybe you are making some of those choices right now, you have a group of friends that you’re like, Okay, I can see ways that they are not good for me, and I love it when of everyday science matches up with what will read in the Bible. Check out these couple of quotes, this is depraved McClelland, your friends determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life, Jim, Ron, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. That means that when you take the sort of like the spirituality of those five people, most of the time you’ll find yourself in the middle, take the fitness of those five people, most of the time, you’ll find yourself somewhere in the middle… Riches to Paris, you won’t be the richest or hours, you probably somewhere in the middle.

Statistically, those are just the ADs, that’s what happens. So think about who your friends are and think about how they influence you, and all of that sounds very sort of sciencey, but watch how it matches up with what this wisdom literature we looked at… Well, tell us, walk with the wise and become wise. For a companion of fools, suffers harm. For a while, I was 100% the person that was choosing to walk with the falls and I suffer at her, and then this change happened in my life when I started to follow Jesus has started hanging around with a group of guys that was so good for me, they led me in such incredible ways, I experienced what it was to Walk with the wise and to become wise. How about this one? Proverbs 22, Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man. Do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourselves in snare. Some of you’re thinking, I at tempera, what do I do now? And it’s a real… Offer struggle is real. Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man. Do not easily associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.

And then this is New Testament, this is poor. The guy who we just spent the last four weeks with, Do not be misled, Bad company corrupts good character. There’s a practical decision on how you make friends, practical ways that that will impact your life in ways that you may never have imagined when you began the friendship, one more, one who was an unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. So he’s a potential solution for you, maybe you need to do a friendship inventory, we need to look at the people that you spend time with, maybe I need to look at the people I spend time with, and maybe I need to promote those friendships that are healthy and enjoyable, you are supposed to love being with your friends, but if you want to be successful, you need to pick the right friends because you’re statistically be the average of the five of them. Friend-making is risk-taking. Any time you choose to enter into a new relationship of any kind, you take a risk, you make yourself vulnerable, there’s a chance that it may not work, and all of this advice is designed to give you some practical things if you do these things statistically, the use your life will be better.

But what I would suggest to you is this under guarding, all of this is that relationship with Jesus just by nature will make friendship in your life more successful than without him. That’s what I found in my life. Anyway, I found that the moment I started following Jesus, I changed from the inside out. There were suddenly practices that I was habitually doing that suddenly seemed to stop… I suddenly remembered what I remember walking down the street one day. I used to just curse a ton because the people I hung out with did, and I remember thinking after a few months of following Jesus career, the last time I did that something has changed, but the desire to hang out with people that share the same interest changed as well, that group of friends that I hang out with, I stopped hanging out with them. Now, they still all spend all their time together, and in some ways that’s a wonderful thing for them, but I found another group of friends that I’m still friends with today, and they helped move my life in a far healthier direction, all the good relationships in my life seeing time and time again to come out of my relationship with Jesus, we’ll talk a bit more about friendship with Jesus next week, and then we’re gonna talk about spiritual friendship and taking relationships deeper.

But on the surface, what we wanted to start with was this, We would love self to become a place that takes friendship and makes it family, we would love South as a community to be a place where you can come in from the outside and find belonging, and you can find clear pathways to making that happen, so we’re starting a little French of challenge, you may have one of these in front of you, you can check out some of the challenges that are there. We have a couple of events that are coming up to help you connect with people you may not have connected with before, one is on the 7th of February, we have a newcomers lunch, if you knew a TA, can connect… Can get to know people. And then on the 14th, we’ve got a big community thing with food trucks and food is always good… Right, and it’s a great way to meet new people, and then there’s a board outside where you can answer some of the questions and your challenges and talk about who you met and who you have encountered, but we need more and better friendships, God made us for friendships we need to learn how to nurture them, maintain them.

Well, let’s pray. Jesus, thank you for the way that you define friend in the Bible, it’s not just someone that we share pictures with or someone that we… Like status is half, it’s a deep relationship. In some ways, it’s far more reflective of family, for my friends here in this community, help us to find good and healthy relationships, help us to begin where we haven’t started, and when we help us to pursue those good relationships, to build those relationships or family, there’s long deep relationships help us to use them to grow in the way of Jesus and the heart of Jesus, amen.

How to Make Friends | Building Strong Friendships (Part 1)2021-04-20T13:04:57-06:00
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