How To Be A ‘Spiritual’ Friend
The Faith Factor – part 7
IF – you have your bibles… TURN – to Genesis chapter 1;
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of
God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. Gen 1:1-3
CIRCLE - God created… the Spirit of God was hovering… God said
QUESTION – do you see it? DO – you see it right there tucked away in the first 3 verses of the bible?
UNDERSTAND - the essence of the entire universe, the essence of all existence, the essence of life – IS right there in those 10 words God created… the Spirit of God was hovering… God said… LISTEN - when we boil it all down the essence of all of life can be summed up in just one word, ‘community.’ UNDERSTAND - community has been around long before creation and is more foundational then the universe itself.
AND - right here in Gen 1 we see that divine community working together. THE Father creating, the Spirit hovering and the Son speaking… An eternal, perfect relationship – connected together, working together…creating together…. ONENESS – in it’s purest form…
Understand – God has always existed. AND - God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit have always been in perfect community… In fact they are the very definition of oneness and selflessness. LISTEN - when you look at the community of the father, Son and Spirit – you do not find them focusing on themselves but rather on each other.
The Spirit points to Jesus and says; “Look at him; listen to him, learn from him, follow him, worship him, be devoted to him, serve him, love him, be preoccupied with him.
And when we look at the Son, oddly enough we see that he didn’t walk around saying, “I’m the greatest!” rather Jesus said, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.” He said, “he came not to be served but to serve.” AND - according to Mark, Jesus submitted to the Spirit when the Spirit drove him into the wilderness, and He told the father during his climatic struggle, :Not my will, but your be done,”
Then there is the Father. Twice in the gospels we hear His voice say; “this is my Son in whom I am well pleased listen to Him…” Note The Father didn’t say ‘listen to me first then listen to him’ or ‘listen to him, only if what he says agrees with me…’
OKAY – the essence of all of life can be summed up in just one word… AND – what is that one word? ‘community.’ NOW – not only do we (the divine community) in genesis one… BUT – we also see God getting busy creating this incredible universe and world that we live in…
AND NOTICE – after placing billions galaxies full of billions of stars in the heavens, after creating both time and space… God zeroed in on His pet project. A small planet on the outer fringes of one of those immense galaxies – the 3rd rock from the sun…earth.
AND – God pumped incredible beauty (towering snow capped mountains; fast flowing rapids, roaring waters falls, vast canyons; wide oceans, jagged cliffs and breathe-taking sunrises and sunsets).. and He poured life into this planet.. YOU KNOW – it’s amazing that NASA has and will continue to spend billions to try to uncover even the most remote or primitive life form on mars or some other distant planet (no luck so far)… BUT – on the other hand, earth is FULL of life… I MEAN - it’s everywhere. Put a shovel of dirt or a cup of water under a microscope and you will see that it is teeming with life… Earth is most definitely God’s pet project…
AND – then on day 6 of this creative process God finally (with a huge smile of his faces, no doubt) got down to what was the purpose of everything that he had spoken into existence.
“Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” - Genesis 1:26
CIRCLE - in our image, in our likeness..
QUESTION - what does that mean? NOW – obviously God could not reproduce himself and create another God since He is absolute and therefore unique… BUT – God did the next best thing… He created beings in his own image… AND – to be in God’s image and likeness (involves many things… LIKE – being able to think, reason, plan, dream, feel, choose, create) BUT LISTEN – I am ABSOLUTELY convinced that at it’s core being made in God’s image and likeness IS ABOUT relationships… is about connecting with AND enjoying that awesome divine community and connecting with and enjoying each other…
AND BECAUSE – this is true… God says the following in Genesis 2:18; “And the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him…"
CIRCLE - "It is not good for the man to be alone… UNDERSTAND – when God created Adam… at first it was just Him. Sure he had a beautiful garden to live in. And all kinds of animals to live with and he even got to name them. AND – even though he looked as if he had all he needed (a good paradise to live in with NO; health problems, financial problems, career concerns, relational turmoil or retirement issues) … There was still something missing in his life… YOU SEE – Adam was alone… AND – God said that this was not good…
WHY? - because man was made in God’s image… AND AGAIN - the very essence, the foundation of being in God’s image and likeness is relationship, is community… UNDERSTAND – man was created not only to connect with God… BUT – also with each other…
“And the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone… AND – Oh how we know this to be true…
There is a little book called, The All Better Book, in it elementary school kids try to solve some of the world’s toughest problem: (what to do about the ozone layer, how to help people stop smoking)… Here’s one of the toughest problems that was handed to this little (but wise ones)…
“With billions of people in the world, someone should be able to figure out a system where no one is lonely. What do you suggest?
Kalani, age 8; ‘People should find lonely people and ask their name and address. Then ask people who aren’t lonely their name and address. When you have an even amount of each, assign lonely people and not lonely people together in the newspaper.
Max, age 9; ‘make food that talks to you when you eat. For instance, it would say, ‘How are you doing?’ and ‘what happened to you today?’
Matt, age 8; ‘we could get people a pet or a husband or wife and take them places.’
Brian, age 8; ‘Sing a song. Stomp your feet. Read a book. (Sometimes I think no one loves me, so I do one of these.)
“With billions of people in the world, someone should be able to figure out a system where no one is lonely. What do you suggest?
John Orteberg in his book, Everyone is Normal Until You get To Know Them, writes the following in regards to loneliness…
For Centuries, some of the smartest grown-ups who ever lived have devoted themselves to this problem. This God- designed hunger for community is why Plato wrote The Republic and Augustine wrote The City Of God. It’s why so many of our stories are about longing to reach community – from the Odyssey to Walton’s mountain, from Camelot to Mayberry, from Friends to Boyz in the hood… It’s why we attend church, join bowling leagues and go on blind dates..
It’s why the single most remembered American speech of the 20th century was a plea fro all human beings one day being able to eat together at the same table of fellowship, join hands and sing a common song. Social scientist Jean Elshtain notes that Martin Luther King Jr captured the conscience of a society because he was articulating, not just his dream, but a human dream – God’s dream.
"It is not good for the man to be alone…
NOW – ‘unfortunately’ most of us know from personal experience that there sting like the sting of loneliness. YES – I’m pretty confident that most of us have been there and done that when it comes to loneliness… BUT – we really don’t like to talk or think about it, all that much…
Loneliness said Mother Teresa, is the leprosy of modern society. And no one wants anybody to know they’re a leper.
IN – Genesis chapter 2 God’s looks at Adam and says, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him…" A - companion to DO what? TO - help him? Help him with what? Help him overcome this problem of being alone…
So the LORD caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He took one of Adam’s ribs and closed up the place from which he had taken it. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib and brought her to Adam. "At last!" Adam exclaimed. "She is part of my own flesh and bone! She will be called `woman,’ because she was taken out of a man." This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now, although Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame. Gen 2:20-25 (NLT)
CIRCLE - "At last!" MAN – can’t you just sense the joy and excitement in Adam’s voice…? "At last!" I’m no longer alone…” Adam looks at Eve and says; “you are a part of me and I am a part of you… we are ONE, I am not alone”… AND – the bible adds these words, Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame…
UNDERSTAND – what that is telling us is that Adam & Eve were experiencing ‘perfect’ intimacy & acceptance. They were connecting on every cylinder… with God and with each other… “Hey, this is Me – and this is YOU… isn’t it awesome!!!” [Tim…] - you and I were created to connect with each other in such a way…
NOW – unfortunately we all know the rest of the story… Adam & Eve sin by eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… AND – at that VERY moment. I MEAN – they are holding the fruit in their hands, they bite into it. AND – instantly they have the knowledge of good and evil… A – knowledge that they were not able to handle…
SIN – enters the world and their relationship, their oneness – their connection is served…with God and with each other… At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves. - Gen 3:7 UNDERSTAND - not only did Adam and Eve hide from God but they now grabbed fig leaves and hid from each other…
AND GUYS – mankind has been hiding from each other ever since. LISTEN - there is deep desire within every person (man, woman, student, rich, poor, young and old) a desire for relationship, for connection. AND UNDERSTAND – I’m not talking about some shallow surface connection (‘sure is nice weather we’re having” “did you see the game last night” “wasn’t that a great movie’)… NO – I’m talking about a deep soul connection… A CONNECTION - where we pour life into another person… AND – they in turn pour life into us.
AND FRIENDS – you can try to ignore this desire… OR - you can try to escape it with (drugs, alcohol, success, pleasure, or things) or you can try to pretend you satisfied it (with some kind of, pseudo, imitation, shallow relationship)… BUT – the truth us everyone of us finds, that we can NEVER ‘really’ hide from this deep desire to connect in a ‘real way’ with another person..
Something is missing and we know it. Something that all the; success, pleasure, fun, good times, possessions and popularity can NEVER quench or take the place of. GUYS - it’s how we are made… REMEMBER – we are made in God’s image.
YES – the words of God that once rang out in a garden paradise centuries ago.. still ring true today, “It is not good for man to be alone… TODAY – as we continue in our series the Faith Factor – we are going to meet a guy named Jonathan. In a message called – “How To Be A Spiritual Friend”
NOW IF – you’ll notice at the top of your outline… the word spiritual is in a different font… The font is actually called ‘Espresso’ NOW – there are 2 reasons for that…
#1; the word ‘spiritual’ was just added this week… YOU SEE – until Wednesday the title for my message was just , “How To Be A Friend..” BUT – as I studied the life of Jonathon… AND as read some books in preparation for this message, especially a book by Larry Crabb that has sat on my shelf for over a year called ‘Connecting’ I came to the conclusion that Jonathon was more than just a friend to David – he was a spiritual friend.
I MEAN – checkout these words in 1 Samuel 18:1; Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (NKJV)
CIRCLE - the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David… DO – you see the picture…? The souls of Jonathan and David were woven together - they were spiritual fiends… OKAY LET ME - give you a quick definition of a ‘spiritual friend’ - a spiritual friend is an intimate, life giving friend who helps you pay attention to God…
NOW - that’s the kind of friend that Jonathan was to David. IN FACT – for 3,000 years their friendship has been a model of what a ‘real’ friendship looks like… OF – all the relationships in the bible this is the one that people always point to…when looking for an example of friendship.
AND – the second reason that the word ‘Spiritual’ is in a font called Espresso… IS because that is exactly what a spiritual friend is… THEY – are like a jolt of espresso poured into your soul!!!
"It is not good for the man to be alone…” AND – Adam shouts… "At last!" UNDERSTAND - Eve was espresso to Adam’s soul… AND – this morning we will see that Jonathan pour espresso into the life of David.
OKAY – my strategy this morning is pretty simple… FIRST - I want to tell you their story… and then I want to pull out several principles of what a spiritual friend does… BUT – before we do that. I want to give you some incentive to not only pay attention to my message… BUT to pursue BEING a spiritual friend. AS – I said one of the books that I’ve been reading this week is book called ‘Connecting’ by Larry Crabb. The whole point of Larry’s book (and I am about half way through it) is that we as believers can connect to another person in such a way, that we can bring about healing and pour life into another person. Let – me share a few quotes;
I have strong reason to suspect that Christians sitting dutifully in church congregations, for whom ‘going to church’ means doing a variety of spiritual activities, have been given resources that if released could powerfully heal broken hearts, overcome the damage done by abusive backgrounds, encourage the depressed to courageously move forward, stimulate the lonely to reach out, revitalize discouraged teens and children with new and holy energy, and introduce hope into the lives of the countless people who feel rejected, alone and useless. Maybe ‘going to church,’ more than anything else, means relating to several people in your life differently. Maybe the center of Christian community is connecting with the few…
When Paul said (in Galatians 4:19) that he felt as though he were in the pains of childbirth until Christ was formed in the lives of the people he loved, was something coming out of him that could meaningfully help a woman with multiple personalities or a man who has never felt close to anyone. I have been captured by the idea that God has placed extraordinary resources within in us that have the power to heal us and our relationships…
There is a power within the life of every Christian waiting to be released, a power that could lead to further and deeper change, a power within us that could help someone else connect more intimately to the heart of Christ. We haven’t dreamed big dreams of what we could mean to another. Maybe it’s time!
WOW! Does that pumped you up… OR what? Let – me tell you it has me pretty fired up… TO THINK – that I have resources within me as a believer (placed there by God) that can be poured into the life of another person and them come really alive. Is starting to keep me up at night and wake me early in the morning… There is a power within the life of every Christian waiting to be released, AND – I say let’s figure out how to release it.
2,000 years ago Jesus, though facing a tough situation was pumped…FOR – several reasons…
Now I’m returning to you. (there’s reason number one, ‘At last’ – I’m coming home to the community I’ve know before time began) I’m saying these things in the world’s hearing So my people can experience My joy completed in them (and there’s reason number two… the joy of community of oneness with God and each other)
John 17:13 (NLT)
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father--that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. "I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are…I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one. Then the world will know that you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me.
John 17:20-23 (NLT)
UNDERSTAND – we were created for connecting… we were created to pour espresso into the soul of another person. YES - sin messed that up, caused us to hide behind our own fig leaves. BUT – through what Christ did on the cross… and through what the Spirit of God that lives in us as believers CAN do… NOT ONLY – can the fig leaves be put down… BUT – streams of life giving espresso can pour out from our souls.
NOW LISTEN – though Jonathan did not have the advantage of having the Holy Spirit in him… He still poured a ton of espresso into the soul of David… HE – shows us how we can do the same thing… AND – even MORE so.
OKAY – their story begins in chapter 18… Go ahead and turn there… AND – as you do let me tell you a little about Jonathan. He is one of King Saul’s sons. Saul was the first king of the nation of Israel. AND – we first met Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14… where he climbs a hill and single-handedly takes on the Philistine army … CHECKOUT – this one verse… it reveals a lot about this men Jonathan;
Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, "Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few."
OKAY – now to our first passage… David has just took out Goliath (his giant)…
• Cut off His head
• Put Goliath’s weapons in his tent (to remind of his stepping into the valley and God showing up)
After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends. 2From that day on Saul kept David with him at the palace and wouldn’t let him return home. 3And Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend, 4and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
ALRIGHT – let’s stop right there for a minute. I’m going to name two very well known men. AND – on a scale of 1 -10. WITH – 10 being an incredible deep & an intimate friendship and a 1, being ‘we best not leave those 2 guys alone. HOW – would you rate the friendship of George W. Bush & John Kerry at this moment?
NOW - I don’t know about you but I’m giving those 2 guys about a 1 or a 2. WHY – so low? BECAUSE – they both want the same job. LISTEN – no one expects John Kerry and George Bush to become really good friends over the next 5 months… I guarantee you – that will see no picture on CNN or Fox News of Bush and Kerry grilling out steaks together or hanging out at each other’s house.
UNDERSTAND - Jonathan was in line to be the next king. He was heir to the throne… I MEAN – his entire life had no doubt been preparation for the day when his dad would hand the crown to him. (AND – do you know what I think, he would have been a good king).
AND – 1 Samuel 18, he meets the guy who is going to take away all those dreams…(it’s to grab some white out and those plans for the future ting, in his high school yearbook) QUESTION – if you were Jonathan, how would you respond to David? IF – you had never heard this story, what would you think would happen? There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends.
QUESTION – why was there such an immediate bond? I think for a couple of reasons; #1 - they were both warriors and #2 - they both had an incredible faith in God. YOU SEE - both (Jonathan & David) were not only willing, but they ‘actually’ did put their lives on the line, because of their faith.
THEN - in verse three we’re told that Jonathan made a covenant with David. NOW - a covenant is a binding agreement, it’s a statement of commitment. AND – what Jonathan was saying in this covenant was, "David, I promise that whatever happens, whatever my father does, whoever the people cheer for, regardless of which one of us is up or which one of us is down, you can count on me. I am for you. I am your friend.”
THEN - in verse four we see Jonathan taking off the robe that he was wearing and giving it to David. AND – we also see him giving David; his armor, his sword and his belt. QUESTION – why does Jonathan do this? (Seems kind of strange, doesn’t it?).. I MEAN – when in our day, when you make a friend, you don’t say, "Hey here’s my shirt. I want you to have this and wear it." SO – what’s going on here?
WELL – (people who are a whole lot smarter than me say), that this was not a casual thing. Most likely what is going on here is that Jonathan recognizes that God has called David to be king. And he wants David to NOT ONLY know that he sees this… BUT – that he supports it, that he’s behind it… NOW - can you imagine how that impacted David? I don’t imagine he was expecting that things would gone down this way when he met the son of Saul. A GUY – who should have been his enemy becomes his best friend, becomes a spiritual friend…
AND – do you know what? The timing of this new relationship could not have come at a better time. BECAUSE SEE – King Saul was about to become the victim of the deadly disease of comparison… YOU SEE – the number one song in the nation after David’s defeat of Goliath was; "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." THIS – really ticks Saul off tries to kill David…Tosses spears at him, sends out assassins to take him out. AND – in chapter 19, he even tries to get Jonathan to kill him. BUT… Jonathan stands up to his dad, reminds Saul of how the only thing David has ever done, is help him. AND – Saul says; “Yes son you’re right, how could I forget that, no one will kill David.
BUT – Saul’s sanity is just temporary… TURN - over to 1 Samuel 20:16 for a minute. Saul is flipping out again trying to kill David. AND - David knows it.. BUT - Jonathan doesn’t know yet. YOU SEE - Saul has hid his plans from his son.
So David talks to Jonathan, and Jonathan is in a difficult place. He’s loyal to David, but he wants to honor his father. And David says, "Jonathan, your dad is trying to kill me." And Jonathan says, "No way, it can’t be true, my dad tells me everything – if he was planning this I’d know about it." BUT - Jonathan promises to find out the truth and let David know.
THEN – in verse 16 they renew their covenant…So Jonathan made a covenant with David, saying, "May the LORD destroy all your enemies!" And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.
NOW - I want you to see from Scripture the price that Jonathan was willing to pay for his friendship with David. Jonathan goes home & tries to figure out exactly where his dads head is at on this David thing… SO HE – tells his dad that David is not going to be at the ‘New Moon Festival’ (a festival where Saul intend ed on killing David) because he had given David permission to go home. Saul’s response…
Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. "You stupid son of a whore!" he swore at him. "Do you think I don’t know that you want David to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!" "But what has he done?" Jonathan demanded. "Why should he be put to death?" Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat all that day, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
Jonathan is willing to risk everything… HIS - future throne, his place in his family, his father’s hatred, even his life — for his friend. NEXT – Jonathan leaves and meets David at a pre-arranged place. AND – he tells David what he found out… and we read the following; in 1 Samuel 20:41,42;
“Then they kissed each other and wept together-but David wept the most. 42 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.’ " Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
AFTER THIS - they were separated for some time. AND - they would meet only once more as far as we know from Scripture. Saul is once again seeking David’s life.
One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. "Don’t be afraid," Jonathan reassured him. "My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father is well aware." So the two of them renewed their covenant of friendship before the LORD. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh. 1 Samuel 23:15-18 (NLT)
NOT – long after that Jonathan would die in battle by his father’s side. And that dream of David being king and Jonathan sitting on his right and being second in the country would never come true. David would have to go, through a long life without his ‘best’ friend… BUT UNDERSTAND - that friendship marked David until his dying day.
QUESTION - do you think that Jonathan’s friendship made a difference in the life of David? I’ll tell you what I think. I think that friendship became an anchor for David’s soul, a spiritual lifeline. I MEAN - think about a passionate, strong man like David enduring what he did and not giving into revenge or running away. I love the way Eugene Peterson puts this, "I think that Jonathan’s friendship entered David’s soul in a way that Saul’s hatred never could." SUCH – is the wonder, beauty and power of a spiritual friend.
WELL - that’s the story. It’s an amazing story. NOW - I want to get down to business and talk about;
• How you can be a spiritual friend
• How you like Jonathan can connect to another person and pour life into their soul…
• How you can help the fig leaves drop and the espresso of ONENESS flow in this place…
NOW – I really only have time to introduce these 6 principles or keys to being a ‘spiritual’ friend… BUT – it’s my prayer that you will chew on them, not just for today or this week…BUT – for the rest of your life..
Be A Spiritual Person
FIRST – to be a SF you need to be a spiritual person (now that’s pretty obvious). Jonathan was a spiritual person. He had a relationship with God. His faith was real and alive. AND [Tim…] – if you want to be a spiritual friend – if you want to pour espresso into the soul of another person… (do you?)
THEN – you must be a spiritual person. NOT – a perfect person but a person who is genuinely seeking God and wanting to be like Christ. UNDERSTAND – it’s your connection with God that makes… your connection with others NOT ONLY powerful… BUT - supernatural!
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. - John 15:5 (Msg)
QUESTION – how is your connection with God this morning?
ARE YOU – seeking God with all of your heart…
Paul in Colossians 1:28; is talking about how it is his call that everyone been mature and complete in Christ; and then he says… I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Col 1;29 (NLT)
YOU SEE – when you are a spiritual person THERE IS a power in you, from Christ that can flow into the lives of other people.
Find ‘That’ Person W/Whom U Can Really Connect
LISTEN – though both Jonathan and David, had many brothers and had fought beside many other men over the years… BUT – it was with only each other that this powerful ‘soul-soul’ connection was made.
NOW – I am sure that all of us long to have that kind of relationship… BUT UNDERSTAND - this is not something that is completely under my control or yours either. YOU SEE - there is no spiritual drive-thru window out there someplace where you can just roll up in your car and say, "I’ll take one spiritual friend…. AND - super-size him, please."
AND - There is no place on the Web labeled spiritual friendship.com with next day delivery at the front door, because if there was, we would all be surfing for it. There is an element of mystery, isn’t there, wherever two people become friends like Jonathan and David did.
Friendship, when it happens, is a gift, and you can’t just make it happen. It’s a little like going to sleep. Have you ever tried really, really hard to go to sleep? Sleep when it comes, is a gift… WELL - spiritual friendship is like that. You can’t make it happen. There’s an element of mystery to it. But there are some things you can do to open yourself up to it.
#1; just start searching. Some of you need to begin by praying and telling God about your desire, "God, lead me to the person that I be a spiritual friend to, that I can connect soul-soul to.”
#2; put yourself in a place where you will meet likely candidates for spiritual friendship (church, small groups, band of brothers…)
#3; test the water for awhile… to see if that connection is going to be there… (AND - it won’t always be there, and that’s okay).. BECAUSE - how many of these relationships, these spiritual friendships, can you expect to have anyway?
#4; make a covenant, a commitment to each others life with Christ, “No matter what
Employ The 2:4 Principle
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. - Phil 2:4
GUYS REMEMBER – you are not going into this relationship for you… BUT – for them.. AND – what an example Jonathan is of this principle lived out…
“Hey David; it’s okay you go ahead and be king, no I really want you to… here take my robe, my sword and my armor…’ AND – let me tell you, Jonathon definitely wasn’t looking out for his own interests when he defended David in front of his dad and had a spear chucked at him… UNDERSTAND – to a spiritual friend you MUST care MORE about you pouring your life into them… THEN – them pouring life into you…
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Accept Who They Are
“…accept each other just as Christ has accepted you.” Rm 15:7
QUESTION – do you know how Christ accepted you? ‘as is’ AND – let me tell you, there is something; powerful freeing and energizing when someone accepts you ‘as is.’ HAS – anyone accepted you that way? Where you don’t have to pretend, where you don’t have to put on masks – where you can let your hair down and just be you… AND – to the depth of your heart that not only is it okay, but that it is acceptable and they still love you.
“To accept people is to be for them. It is to recognize that it is a very good thing that these people are alive, and to long for the best for them. It does not, of course mean to approve of everything they do. It means to continue to want what is best for their souls no matter what they do.”
AND – after comparing the difference in the way Jesus and the teachers of the law dealt with the woman caught in adultery (they wanted to throw stones, he accepted her and said ‘go and sin no more) he writes; “Amazingly enough radical acceptance does what condemnation and judgmentalism and self-superiority could not do: produce a changed life…” - Orteberg ‘Everyone’s Normal…”
A spiritual friend accepts who their friend is… NEXT – they;
Envision Who They Can Be
NOW – Jonathan was incredible at doing this… AGAIN – Jonathan in their first meeting gave David his robe, sword and armor… AND LET – me tell you what Jonathan was saying to David in this act…
“David, when I look at you, I see a king, God’s anointed. And I want you to know that not only does that not pain me, I celebrate that. And David, my friend, I want you always to remember who God made you to be so every time you wear this robe. And every time you hold this sword, I want you to remember what I see in you, remember what God sees in you. Don’t settle for anything less."
And I wonder how often through the years David went back and pulled out that sword that Jonathan gave him. I wonder how often, just in his private moments, David went back and pulled out that robe. Was it when he was alone and on the run, or when he won a great victory? Maybe when he brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, and he was dancing with all of his might, or maybe when he was broken by his sin with Bathsheba.
YES - I wonder how often he went into the room and pulled out the box where he kept what he’d been given — and remembered his friend, what his friend had called him to.
LISTEN – that is exactly what a ‘spiritual’ friend does… “Here is what I see in you… here is what I see God doing in you and through you…. “
JUST IMAGINE – what you happen in the lives of your friends and the people you love if they knew that you were caught up in a vision of who they could be…
Help Them To Always SEE The Good
A Spiritual Friend helps their friend see the good in 2 places;
FIRST; In Their Circumstances…
LISTEN – Jonathan did that for David, REMEMBER – in 1 Samuel chapter 23; David is on the run, he’s been on the run for awhile... Saul is trying to kill him. AND BECAUSE – they are knit together, soul to soul, Jonathan knows that his friend is not doing so well… He can sense it (he knows David is down, discouraged and that David feels that his future will no longer come to pass) and we read in 1 Samuel 23:16,17
Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. "Don’t be afraid," Jonathan reassured him. "My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel…
“Hey – God is still in this thing – and He is working to bring about the good…”
NEXT – A SF helps their friend see the good
#2; In Themselves
In the book ‘Connecting’ Larry Crabb writes;
A friend of mine spent a weekend with a Christian ministry for troubled young people. During a morning session of the residents and their parents, a young woman rose to address the group.
With trembling lips and tears of shame streaming down her face, she said, “I’ve been a prostitute for that last 3 years. I am so sorry.
As she stood there, paralyzed by her vulnerability, her father left his seat, walked to the front of the room, embraced the shaking girl, and said, “When I look at you, I see NO prostitute in you. You’ve been washed. I see my beautiful daughter.”
She replied, “I had forgotten the joy of being your little girl.”
I want us to relate to one another, not as moralist to sinner or as therapist to patient, but as saint to saint, father to child, friend to friend, as true lovers, WITH the confidence that we CAN help each other believe that, by the grace of God, there is something good beneath the mess. Even when all we can see is the mess, I want us to believe that we CAN nourish the good and encourage its release.
MAN – I pray I am making sense here. I pray that I am getting across exactly what God wants me to get across… [Tim…] - the greatest thing about you is not your fall… is not your sin… it’s your glory, it’s your heart, it’s you… it’s Christ in you the hope of glory!!!
AND UNDERSTAND – a spiritual friend helps you to see ‘your’ glory through all the mess. They help you see past - your sins, failures and mistakes and see the new creation that you are in Christ, that help you to see that you are God’s workmanship created anew in Christ Jesus to do good works… They help you see the good that is in you BECAUSE God has given you a new heart… They remind you that God’s law is no longer outside of you written on tablets of stone… BUT – it is written on your heart…
“There is a power within the life of every Christian waiting to be released, a power that could lead to further and deeper change, a power within us that could help someone else connect more intimately to the heart of Christ. We haven’t dreamed big dreams of what we could mean to another. Maybe it’s time!”