Summary: This is the fourth in my SURVIVOR series, focusing upon the qualities that we need to look for in forming our personal friendships (10-06-02).
How many of you have ever been or are part of some sort of alliance? What sorts of alliances are we a part of on a day-by-day basis? (Entertain answers from the congregation.)
“Alliance” is an interesting word. Webster’s Dictionary defines an alliance as, “an association to further the common interests of the members” and “union by relationship in qualities .” Many times you see this word used in reference to nations, as they form alliances for a common purpose. In fact, in great conflicts like World War II or the Gulf War the nations friendly to our cause were called allies.
The television show Survivor has brought an entirely new meaning to the word “alliance.” You see, on Survivor, people form alliances in the form of a voting block to get rid of people. In their alliances they agree not to vote for one another, and they agree who they are going to vote for when the Tribal Council comes. So, if they can become part of a strong alliance, they can stay in the game for a long time.
Of course, in the course of my life I have formed all sorts of alliances … many of them for the wrong reason. I’ll never forget one alliance that I formed when I was in the sixth grade. There was a worrisome boy in my class named Tom. He didn’t run will the cool guys like I did, but he desperately wanted to be a part of our group. So, my little alliance of friends got together and cooked up a little joke to pull on Tom.
We told him that he could hang out with us if he would help us pull a trick on our Social Studies teacher. We told him that at exactly one o’clock that afternoon, he should give a loud sneeze. Ten seconds later, we told him, the entire class would follow with a loud sneeze. Then, ten seconds later, he was supposed to wipe his hand across his nose with a big, loud wipe. And, finally, ten seconds later we would all do the same thing.
Of course, none of has any plan to do it. We were just setting him up. We didn’t even tell anybody else in the class of twenty-five students. And the bad part is that we all forgot about it. But Tom didn’t! And exactly at one o’clock he let out one of the loudest and most stupid fake sneezes you ever heard. It was so loud that teachers were looking out of their rooms up and down the hall. The teacher just went over to his desk, grabbed him by the ear, and hauled him out of the room. About ten minutes later she came and got every member of our little alliance.
Needless to say … our alliance suffered drastically at the hands of the principal that day.
Alliances are often times an important and necessary part of our lives. We do not live in a vacuum, we live in a society, and so we must ally ourselves with other people for a common cause or to accomplish a common purpose.
But sometimes we make bad alliances. Occasionally, we wind up in an alliance that does us more harm than good. That even happened in the Bible. It happened to Solomon. He married hundreds of women from other countries in order to make military and national alliances with those countries. But, in the end, the influence of those women led him to be unfaithful to God. In fact, he even worshiped and offered sacrifices to other gods. His alliances caused his downfall and eventually led to the splitting of the kingdom of Israel. So, those were definitely bad alliances.
But, there are also good alliances in the Bible. Our New Testament is full of alliances among individuals for a common purpose. We see the formation of an alliance between Jesus and His disciples. We see an alliance between Paul and Barnabas to go out and do missions … take the Gospel to the world. But eventually that alliance becomes strained by a conflict. We eventually see the growth of an alliance and understanding between Christians of Jewish and non-Jewish birth. It wasn’t easy, but that alliance for the common cause of sharing the message of Jesus finally came.
But today I want us to focus upon a personal alliance … simply because that is most often the type of alliance that we will enter into. Each day we choose the people with whom we will make personal alliances in our lives. Some might call them friends, but that word does not quite do justice to this concept of a personal alliance. Friends can be distant or close, personal or impersonal, deep or superficial.