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Summary: Our motivation is love, because Christ gave His. Be open and share your life, for Christ shared His and we are blessed.

Relationships define life - relationship with God and relationships with people.

• You take that away and you’ll be left with an existence, not life.

• You take relationships away, and your home will be just a house, this church will be just a building.

Jesus summed up the Commandments with two simple lines – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39).

• That’s loving God, and loving people. It sounded simplistic, but that’s the foundation to everything in life. Think about that for a moment.

• It’s all about loving God and doing things His way, and loving people, living life just like Christ.

• The way Jesus puts it, relationship is the core to the Christian life.

You cannot live in isolation. Independence is not the goal of the Christian life.

• We need a community. We need to be in a community. We can only grow well and healthy in a community.

• Yet little is taught about relationship growing up. We learn more about academic subjects than about relationships. We learn many technical skills but little people skills. We have high IQs but low EQs.

• We only learn about relationships through trial and error, through mistakes and hurts.

Relationships are complicated and complex. It takes efforts and lots of wisdom to nurture relationships.

A woman heard about a relationship-building exercise and decided to try it out.

She said to her husband, "I know how we can strengthen our marriage. Each of us will write a list of the things we find a bit annoying about the other person. Then we can talk about it and see how we can fix them together."

Her husband agreed, so each of them went into a separate room and thought of all the things that annoyed them about each other.

At dinner table that night, they decided that they would go over their lists.

"I’ll start," the wife said and took out her list. She had 3 pages of it.

As she started reading the list of little annoyances, she noticed that her husband was teary.

"What’s wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing," her husband replied, "Keep reading your list."

The wife continued to read until she had finished all 3 pages. She neatly placed her list on the table and folded her hands over it.

"So, now is your turn. Read your list and then we can talk," she said happily.

Softly, her husband started, "I don’t have anything on my list. I love you the way you are. And I wouldn’t want to try and change anything about you."

The wife treated it naively as a simple, rational exercise, but it unravels everything. The exercise broke the husband’s heart.

• Raising all the negative aspects of a relationship in this way actually erodes its strength more than builds it up. Relationships need to be handled with more care.

In AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS, we want to look at the relationships we find in the Scriptures and glean important principles that can help us cultivate good relationships.

• At the same time, at our Sunday School group time, we will use a Bible Study material with the same theme, on building community.

• We pray that over these few weeks, by God’s grace, we can build closer friendships with one another, and learn important principles for ourselves.

Today we want to talk about FRIENDSHIP, starting with the words of Jesus:

John 15:9-17 “I HAVE CALLED YOU FRIENDS”

9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 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. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus tells His disciples (and us today) that He no longer call us servants but friends.

• That’s nothing wrong with the word ‘servant’. If Jesus is the Son of God, then to serve Him is a privilege and the right thing to do. He is indeed our Master and Lord, and we are His servants.

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