Summary: What are the indications of strong, healthy friendships?
Shera and I watched on Thursday evening as Christie voted out of the Amazon on Survivor. Her mistake? She refused to join a solid alliance. She had the opportunity, but she simply wouldn’t commit herself. As a result, people thought she was flip-flopping and not to be trusted, so they voted her out.
Alliances have always played a big role on Survivor, going right back to the very first season. You may remember Rudy, the rough-around-the-edges former Navy Seal who made it all the way to the last episode of the first season and had a good chance of winning. He said:
“My advice for anybody who plays this game is form an alliance and stick with it.”
~ Rudy Boesch
So in every run of Survivor, the participants have arrived with one purpose: to form an alliance which will get them through to the end. And the ones who have successfully formed an alliance and who have been faithful to it have lasted a long time and have even won. And no one has gotten to the end without joining an alliance of some kind. It has become the single most important part of any strategy.
But the idea of alliances was not invented by Survivor contestants. Throughout history people have found strength in alliances, and earlier in the service Shera read about just one of those alliances. It was the friendship formed between a prince and a shepherd boy: Jonathan and David. And it’s one of the most famous friendships in history.
So this morning we’re going to look at their alliance and we’re going to talk about the alliances we have in the form of friendships. We’re going to discuss how we can build strong and healthy relationships with each other, and how within the context of friendships we can experience the very best God has to offer us in life and in a relationship with Him.
A number of years ago a British publication held a contest and offered a prize for the best definition of what a friend is. And they received thousands of submissions. I’ll tell you what some of them were, but first what are some of your definitions?
Some of the submissions were:
One who understands our silence.
A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.
A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down.
And the winning definition: A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.
What I want to do this morning is give you the marks of a strong alliance. What are the marks, the indicators, the characteristics of strong, healthy friendships which honour God and honour each other?
Five Marks of a Strong Alliance:
1. Loyalty to Each Other
One of the reasons the friendship between Jonathan and David is so famous is the loyalty they had to each other. Jonathan’s father, King Saul, hated David. The prophet Samuel had named David as the next King of Israel, which meant that Saul would lose it. So Saul plotted to do away with David. He was going to kill him. But when Jonathan found out he was able to warn David, and David was able to escape.
But think for a moment what this would cost Jonathan. Jonathan was the oldest son of the king. You know what that means. He was next in line. But if David were to become King, that meant that Jonathan would not. But their friendship and their loyalty were strong enough that Jonathan didn’t care. All he was concerned about was saving the life of his friend, regardless of what it might cost him. Listen to what he told David when he warned David to go into hiding because of his father’s hatred:
1 Samuel 20:42 (NIV)
Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD , saying, ’The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’ "
Jump ahead. Years later, David becomes king. Saul had been killed in battle, and sadly so had Jonathan. But David did not forget his friendship. He had made a promise of friendship not only to Jonathan but also to all his descendents. So he sent for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth had a couple problems. First, he had a terrible name. Second, he had been injured as an infant and was crippled as a result.
Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul, the man who was obsessed with killing David. But he was also the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend. So David gave Mephibosheth all the land and property that belonged to Saul, assigned 36 servants to take care of everything, and invited Mephibosheth to live at the palace.