Summary: The sermon is designed foir the ’A Life worth living’ post alpha course as the discussion starter.
This evening we are talking about a new friendship. We will look at friendships in the world and the differences that can be found in Christian Friendships. I wonder how you define a friend? Perhaps you have 250 friends on face book, or you count your friends as those you work with or those you meet in the pub in the evenings. How many of those people – how many of any of the people that you may count as friends are really your friends?
Most of us live busy lives – with so much that we feel we have to do there isn’t the time for really getting to know someone. We can be so busy that the whole idea is lost to us. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t like to have more friends, and even to be a better friend to those we know. It seems that our society, the way we live makes it harder.
C.S Lewis, in his book ’The Four Loves’ said: “To the Ancients, Friendships seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it... It is something quite marginal; not a main course in life’s banquet; a diversion; something that fills up the chinks of ones time. How has this come about? Few value it, because few experience it. We can live and breed without friendship The species, biologically considered has no need of it [Some] may even dislike and distrust it.”
I’m not sure I entirely agree with C.S. Lewis. I do not believe that the modern world ignores it, I think most of the modern world misses it deeply, but doesn’t have the skills, and isn’t prepared to try to learn them.
Here are a few quotes about friendship:
"Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you." -- Elbert Hubbard
"A friend is someone, who upon seeing another friend in immense pain, would rather be the one experiencing the pain than to have to watch their friend suffer." -- Amanda Grier
"Friendship is a pretty full-time occupation if you really are friendly with somebody. You can’t have too many friends because then you’re just not really friends."
"Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success." - Oscar Wilde
"I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends." - William Shakespeare
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. - Psalm 24
Making friends can be very difficult. It is so easy to say or to do something that upsets the person you are befriending. Many years ago, back in the mid-seventies (some of you go back that far), and before I was a Christian I had a friend that I had made through work. He was from a Pakistani family, but had been born in London. I was slightly older than him, and had helped him look for and buy a car. We had spent time together fixing it and I was teaching him the simple parts of car maintenance – how to change the plugs, the oil, things like that. One day in a conversation, one of those offensive phrases from the past popped out of my mouth – it included the ’N’ word. It was not directed against him, but was spoken in support of him. He reacted angrily and never spoke to me again.
We seem to use the slightest excuse to cut people off, at any chance we take offence, even when none was intended. There can be no way back – the damage is done.
It is not part of God’s plan that friendships should be so difficult. He was concerned that Adam was lonely and so provided a companion. It is not good for the man to be alone. A little further on we read:
Ge 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
God’s intention was that His creation would also be His friends. Adam & Eve hid from Him because their sin had allowed them to see that they were naked, and they were ashamed. The friendship with God was broken – even before He confronted them about what they had done.
Ever since our friendships have existed in the same state. It’s not just our friendship with God that is difficult, but also our friendships with each other. Our selfishness, our carelessness make it very hard for us to make and keep good friends. Our relationships with others are not what they could or should be.