Summary: Based on the life of Ruth and Naomi - a sermon about the joy of friendship - a sermon designed to start a series on Thankfulness.
Theme: Thankfulness - Thanking God for Friends
Sermon: Based on the life of Ruth and Naomi - a sermon about the joy of friendship - a sermon designed to start a series on Thankfulness.
Grace and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ our Savior and LORD!
How many would agree this morning that Friendship is a Good Thing?
How many would agree that for the most part many people have forgotten how important it is to have some friends; especially some close friends.
In a recent study done (by sociologists) it was discovered that it is very likely that more than once we have:
+Taken our friends for granted.
+As we raised our family or are continuing to raise our family we have tended to neglect our friends counting on members of our family to fill that need.
+Believed that we no longer see the need to put in the effort to make and keep close friendships - we can make it quite nicely on our own.
In fact, what is perhaps even more surprising is that while the average number of "friends' that the average Facebook user has is around 200 the truth is most people have fewer friends that they call close friends than they have fingers on one hand. Back in 1985 most people stated that they only had 3 close friends. That number for most people was under 2 by 2004 and today stands about the same (under two).
Perhaps what is most shocking is that around 25% of our population stated that they have no close friends - no one to go and share a cup of coffee with, no one who they can take a walk with or do anything with - the majority of the time they live without any close friend or connection at all.
That is not only shocking it is quite dangerous. A majority of physicians and health professionals tell us that it is physically and mentally detrimental for us not to make and retain friends. Friends are quite beneficial. Friends keep us strong and vigorous. They keep us energetic and alive. Some studies have shown that not having friends is more dangerous than being obese and is the equivalent health risk of smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Friends can help our mental health because they can be the mirror to our minds, our souls and our emotional health. Friends are better at describing our behavioral traits than we are at self- diagnosis. Friends can help us enjoy life more, endure grief and sorrow and help us understand how to be more kind, patient and loving.
This morning, if you have just three close friends there is a 96% chance that you are among a group of the most happiest people on our planet. Now three close friends are vastly different that having people who "like" your picture, your comments or something you post on Facebook. Facebook friends and real friends are not always one and the same.
This morning, our Bible story reveals to us some wonderful truths about friendship. It's a story about a friendship between two women - Ruth and Naomi. At first we get the impression that while they are relatives they may not have been close friends. After all, Naomi does her best to get Ruth and Orpha to leave her alone after the death of her husband and her two sons. Naomi wants to return to Israel in all her misery, alone, depressed and dejected.
But it is right here that Ruth begins to teach us the value and importance of friendship. Ruth would not let Naomi stay depressed, lonely or miserable. In fact, it could be said that Ruth stalked her, bugged her and pushed herself upon Naomi. Ruth realized deep down in her soul that if she allowed this woman to go by herself that it wouldn't be too long before she would hear about her getting sick and perhaps dying. Naomi felt she had nothing to live for. I believe that Naomi merely wanted to go back to Israel, tell everyone her sad story and die. The Bible tells us that she had even given herself a new name - Mara - Bitter Woman. Wow! Now that's falling into a pit of depression.
Ruth takes a chance - a chance that saves Naomi's life and in the end enables the both of them to receive a blessing, a miracle and an anointing that has to be one of the greatest stories that we read in the Old Testament. It is a story of how we need to make sure today that we are reaching out to make friends and make sure that we keep alive the friendships that we already possess.
It is vital that we keep making new friends because it is normal for us to lose at least half of our friends every 7 - 10 years or more. People move away, we change jobs, our lives change and the circle of friends that we had 7 - 10 years ago are suddenly gone. It is also very possible that if we do not keep making friends that by the time we get to be senior citizens and beyond that we may not even have any friends and as we have seen that can be disastrous.