Summary: How can we develop a friendship with Jesus rather than a mere acquaintanc relationship?

April, 2007

“How to Be a Friend of Jesus”

John 15:9-17

Introduction: A middle school teacher asked her class to write imaginative definitions of a friend. One student said, “A friend is a pair of open arms in a society of armless people.”

Another said, “A friend is a warm bedroll on a cold and frosty night.”

Other said, “A friend is a lively polka in the midst of a dreary musical concert.”

“A friend is a mug of hot coffee on a damp cloudy day.”

“A friend is a beautiful orchard in the middle of the desert.”

“A friend is a stiff drink when you’ve had a terrible shock.” (How does a middle school student know that?)

“A friend is a hot bath after you have walked 20 miles on a dusty road.”

Mark Twain said, ‘the holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring nature that it will last through a whole lifetime if not asked to lend money.”

It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend. Pepper Rodgers was the football coach at UCLA several years ago and when his team kept losing games one season he was criticized severely by the media. It got so bad that he said to his wife that a man needs at least two friends but his only friend was his dog.

So his wife went out and bought him another dog.

Friendship is a wonderful thing and a rare thing. The Clergy Journal said that 60% of men over 30 cannot identify a single person they would call a close friend. Of the 40% who list friends, most were made during childhood or school years. Most women can identify 5 or 6 women they call close friends. A closer look shows that a lot of these were functional relationships. Friendship is not easy to develop according to this study.

In scripture did you ever notice that Christians were called “friends” before they were called Christians? In the New Testament it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians long after the death of Jesus. It was Jesus who said, “I have called you friends.” Before anything else, “I have called you friends.”

Someone once said, “There are friends and then there are friends. We have to sort through what we call a friend--an acquaintance, chum, buddy, colleague, business associate, neighbor. There are fair-weather friends who hang around as long as the sun is shining and there’s no hardship. But our real friends are those who show up and stay with us when we face trying circumstances--a storm in our life, an illness, a death, a crisis. Can they stay with us when there is nothing to do but wait?

Jesus saw the importance of friendship and wanted this kind of relationship with his disciples. He knew that it was not always easy and that sometimes people let their friends down. In his hour of crisis in Gethsemane he asked his disciples to stay awake with him while he went to pray. They couldn’t take the pressure and they fell asleep in this critical hour of his life. But even the failings of the disciples and in our failings, it does not prevent Jesus from moving toward his goal of friendship. Why? He knew their future would depend on their attitude toward one another.

What can we learn from this scripture about friendship?

1. Jesus is the Pattern: Jesus shows us how to be a friend. He learned it from the Father. In verse 9 He says to them, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love.” How can we, with all of our failings, love people like Jesus said to do? Wouldn’t that be impossible? One of the secrets was to REMAIN in his love, and it begins to have a ripple effect toward others. We receive from Jesus what we need in order to be able to understand people, to forgive people, and to make allowances for their frailities. We can do it through Jesus.

STORY: Gladyce, a widow, attended church faithfully every Sunday. She would get there about 20 minutes early to sit and pray. This was her ritual. Just her and Jesus. She had been doing this for years. Then one Sunday a new family sat behind her. This was disturbing. She said, “Oh, well, they’re visitors and they may not be back next week anyway.” She thought she could put up with the small feet kicking at her back and the toy cars being driven on the top of her pew and loud whispers for lifesavers and trips to the bathroom that interrupted her prayer for one Sunday.

Much to her dismay, one week turned into two and two into a month and she realized that they were here to stay.

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