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Summary: The Cross created a situation where the Son of God would call us His friends. How can that be?

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OPENING:

* I wonder why it’s such a compliment to tell a woman she looks like a breath of spring, but not to tell her she looks like the end of hard winter. Isn’t it the same thing?

* I wonder why it pleases her to say time stands still when you look into her face, but not to say her face would stop a clock. Why?

* I wonder why people who punish a child for lying will tell the same child, "Just say I’m not home."

* I wonder why, when the preacher says, "In closing..." he doesn’t.

* I wonder why a speaker who "needs no introduction" gets one anyway. It seems curious.

APPLICATION: Many things in this world could cause us to wonder. But one of the most striking is that God should want to call us His friends.

In John 15:14-15 Jesus said:

"You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

"Friends." That Jesus would call us friends somehow defies imagination. One of the primary reasons that would be difficult to imagine is because of what we find written in Romans 5:6-8 "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Ephesians tells us we were His enemies).

AND YET, Bible’s most potent scripture: John 3:16 tell us "For God so… what? (loved the world). That’s you and me!

I. The Cross is the highest symbol of friendship.

John 15: 13 tells us "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

The symbol of the cross is so important to our relationships that God even used it for marriage:

Eph 5:25 "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her." There is no greater love we can show to another than to sacrifice for them.

ILLUS 1994 OCEANSlDE, Calif. (AP) In Mr. Alter’s fifth-grade class. it’s impossible to tell which boy is undergoing chemotherapy. Nearly all the boys are bald. Thirteen of them shaved their heads so a sick buddy wouldn’t feel out of place.

"If everybody has their head shaved, sometimes people don’t know who’s who. They don’t know who has cancer, and who just shaved their head" said 11-yeat-old Scott Sebelius, one of the baldies at Lake Elementary School. For the record, Ian O’Gorman is the sick one.

Doctors recently removed a malignant tumor from his small intestine, and a week ago he started chemotherapy to treat the disease, called lymphoma.

"Besides surgery, I had tubes up my nose. I had butterflies in my stomach" said Ian, who’ll have eight more weeks of chemotherapy in an effort to keep the cancer from returning.

Ian decided to get his head shaved before all his hair fell out in clumps. To his surprise, his friends wanted to join him - in a move reminiscent of the 1992 U.S. Olympic volleyball players, who shaved their heads in a show of solidarity with a bald teammate.

"The last thing he would want is to not fit in, to be made fun of, so we just wanted to make him feel better and not left out" said 10-year-old Kyle Hanslik.

Kyle started talking to other boys about the idea, and then one of their parents started a list. Last week, they all went to the barber shop together.

"It’s hard to put words to," said Ian’s father, Shawn, choking back tears as he talked about the boys. "It’s very emotional to think about kids like that who would come together, to have them do such a thing to support Ian." The boys’ teacher, Jim Alter, was so inspired that be, too, shaved his head.

II. The Cross is a symbol of Life (in God’s friendship we have life).

In John 15:16 Jesus told His disciples: "I chose you."

ILLUS: The TV news program 20/20 once had a segment on baby chicks that were packaged and marketed. These tiny chicks traveled on conveyer belts past workers who selected them to fit into a box to be shipped out and sold. The chicks were chosen by sex, size, general appearance. But some were not chosen. The cameras followed these baby chicks as they slipped by the workers and fell off the end of the conveyer belt… to die. That’s the way of this world. If you don’t fit into the box, you’re rejected and left to die.

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Doug Lapointe

commented on Oct 14, 2014

Rev. Strite, I have been using many of your illustrations in my messages and wanted to thank you. On the written page, you stand out to me and I look you up specifically. Blessings.

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