Summary: Jesus established His church to be a place where we could develop friendships... and where we could become His friends.
OPEN: Some years ago Collier’s Magazine published a story about a little girl in an orphanage. She was quite unattractive and had many annoying habits, which resulted in her being shunned by the children and disliked by the staff. The director of the orphanage looked for a good excuse to ship her off to some other institution.
Now for some time it had been suspected that she was writing clandestine notes to people outside of the orphanage. And then one afternoon their suspicions were confirmed. One of the children had just reported, "I saw her write a note and hide it on a tree near the stone wall."
The director hurried to the tree and found the note, then passed it silently to his assistant. The note read, "To whoever finds this: I love you."
APPLY: Everyone has a need to be loved
Experts tell us that emotionally healthy people form meaningful ties with other human beings. They don’t just exchange information They share personal things. They talk about likes and dislikes/ their joys and fears. They extend themselves to help others and they know how to accept assistance when they get in over their heads.
When they have important decisions to make, they get insight and support from their friends.
But those same experts are telling us that there is a disturbing trend going on lately. In the June issue of the American Sociological Review, researchers cited evidence that Americans have a third fewer close friends than just a couple of decades ago.
More disturbing still, the data seemed to indicate that the number of people who have nobody to count as a close personal friend has more than doubled.
The findings hold for both males and females. They are consistent for people of all races, ages, and educational levels. Even within families, the degree of intimacy has diminished considerably. All this information speaks of people who are feeling lonelier and more isolated than ever. (Melvin Newland, sermoncentral.com)
I. That’s why Jesus set His church up on the idea of loving one another
Look again with me to John 15:9-12
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 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.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
God knows how the importance of friendship and so He built His church on that foundation. The Foundation of the Church is that is to be a place where we could build friendships.
So, if friendship is so critical, what does it look like? What is a friend?
Someone once said: “Friends are God’s way of taking care of us.”
Someone else said: “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
But perhaps the best definition was given by a young boy: “A friend is a person who knows us – and still likes us.”
Proverbs Tells Us
Ø Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:6
Ø A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
Ø A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:2
ILLUS: Back in the 1980’s Sam Rayburn - Speaker for the House of Representatives - learned that one of his friends had just lost his teenage daughter.
Early the next morning Rayburn knocked on his door.
“I just came by to see what I could do to help.”
The father replied that there was nothing to do.
“Well,” Rayburn said, “have you had your coffee this morning?”
The man replied that they had not taken time for breakfast. So Rayburn went to work in the kitchen. While he working on making breakfast, his friend came in, and said, “Mr. Speaker, I thought you were supposed to be having breakfast at the White House this morning.”
“Well, I was, but I called the President and told him I had a friend who was in trouble and I couldn’t come.”
That’s what the Bible means by friendship. To have someone who regards you so highly that they want to be there when you need them.
So Jesus built His church upon this concept of friendship - of being there for each other.
The Bible repeatedly says that we should “be there” for ONE ANOTHER.
We should “…encourage one another and build each other up...” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Romans 12:10 says we should “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”