Summary: My subject this morning is not evangelism per say, but something crucial to its success. How can we be the kind of friends that attracts people to Christ and attracts healthy relationships in our own lives?

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Being a True Friend

Series: Cultivating Healthy Relationships #2

1 Sam. 17:57-18:4[1]



Ted was born to Polish parents in Chicago in 1942. His father was a sausagemaker and times were tough. When Ted was only 6 months old he was hospitalized with a severe allergic reaction to medication. During that time he was neither hugged nor held—doctors’ orders. When he came home from the hospital his parents described him as withdrawn and listless.

During his early childhood Ted continued to withdraw. But he was very bright intellectually. He sprinted through Evergreen Park High School. And when only 16 years old, he headed off to Harvard.

At Harvard he shared a preppy suite with 5 other guys. One of his roommates, Michael Rohr said, “I can’t remember having a conversation with him.” Patrick McIntosh, another of the roommates, said “Ted had a special talent of avoiding relationships by moving quickly past groups of people and slamming the door behind him.”

By the time he was 20 years old, Ted finished his degree at Harvard and headed off to the University of Michigan where he received his Master’s and Ph.D. Then he went to the University of California (Berkeley) to teach.

Ted intensified his slide into isolation when in 1971 he moved to Montana and became a recluse. In 1990 Ted’s father committed suicide and Ted didn’t even attend the funeral. He said that he had developed a heart arrhythmia which got worse by dealing with family. Ted had told the family to draw a red line under the postage stamp to identify “important & urgent” letters they might send. When they used the red line to identify the letter telling of his father’s suicide, Ted wrote back complaining that the message did not merit a red line.

Ted Kaczyski continued to go deeper and deeper into seclusion until finally exposed as the infamous Unabomber. It’s hard to say what caused Ted to withdraw the way he did. Maybe his early illness was a factor. Maybe the fear of man kept him from discovering the joy and value healthy friendship. Maybe he reacted to some disappointing relationship attempts. Maybe he got his priorities all wrong and put relationship building too far down on the list. One thing is undeniable; the end result of Ted’s withdrawal was destructive for him as well as many others. [2]

This morning I am going to continue the theme from last week concerning relationships. We live in a paradoxical society. On the one hand, we are seeing amazing advancement in communication technology. Now through the magic of satellites we can easily talk directly with someone in China or almost anywhere in the world. The internet has revolutionized the communication industry. All kinds of channels of communication have now opened up between people that were previously impractical if not impossible. Yet while all of that is going on people are feeling more and more disconnected with one another. Emotional isolation is becoming epidemic in America.

Harvard Professor Robert Putnam spearheaded a survey of 40 communities around the U.S. This Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey interviewed about 29,200 people by phone. It determined that the degree to which we socialize with one another, trust one another and join with one another in community predicts a city’s quality of life far better than levels of education or income. The research found that membership in all group activities—bowling leagues, fraternal orders, churches, labor unions, and clubs had steadily fallen. In other words America’s stockpile of “social capital” (or trust and cooperation among citizens) has plummeted.[3]

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