Summary: The sermon seeks to understand the words of Jesus who calls us "His friends". There is a difference between being an acquaintance of Jesus and being His Friend. some thoughts from "Cigna Insurance on loneliness in our culture, & "seasons of refreshing.
In Jesus Holy Name May 6, 2018
Text: John 15:12-14 Easter VI
“To Be A Friend of God”
Begin with a prayer this week. (read the text)
One of the most popular TV shows from 1994 to 2004 was called “Friends”. It was about 3 young men and 3 young women who lived in the same apartment complex in New York. They shared the joys and sorrows of life and love but they were not above sticking their noses into one another’s businesses.
A recent New Cigna Insurance Study (on the Drudge Report) this week revealed that “loneliness is at epidemic levels in America. The survey interviewed more than 20,000 adults ages 18 years and older. Their answers are one of the reasons it is critical that Redeemer remain a “genuine friendly place”.
• Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone. (46%)
• One in four Americans (27%) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them. (Another reason we as a congregation are thrilled about the training in “Stephen’s Ministry”.
• Two in five Americans sometime or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43%) and that they are isolated from others.
• One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20%) or feel like there are people they can talk to.
• Only about half of Americans (53%) have meaningful personal social interactions, such as an extended conversation with a friend.
• The survey also revealed several important bright spots. Human beings are by nature social human beings and being in a community is important.
Jesus said: “ This is my command that you love one another. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant nor slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
The term "friend" conveys a sense of closeness, trust, and sharing. Friendship means a close or confidential relationship.
Being a Friend and Friendliness are twoi different things.
When we demonstrate “friendliness” it means that we care deeply for the concerns of others….when we do that, we are imitating Jesus. Redeemer is built on this understanding of “being a friend with Jesus” then letting that acceptance through acts of “friendliness” or kindness be felt by others.
Jesus said “you are my friends if you do what I command.” What does He command? That we love and accept one another.
In the O.T we find that the Lord spoke with Moses face to face as a friend. Exodus 33:11,The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend
It was an act of intimacy and friendship instigated by God. God doesn’t’ love Moses because of something he had done. God doesn’t love us because of anything we have or have not done. His love isn’t based on our worthiness at all, but His goodness. His love.
When we read through the life of Moses and we see that these face to face meetings are regular, and required occurrences. Yet these meetings did not just happen. Moses was intentional about creating an opportunities conductive to see the “face of God.”
Throughout the life of Moses we see over and over again, this open conversation with God. It is important to note, that this level of relationship/friendship requires intentionality and regular communication. Moses did not only speak to God once in a while, or only when he needed something, but as a friend, he maintained regular and open communication with God. (from Seasons of Refreshing)
Look at Abraham. Abraham was called a friend of God. God didn’t love Abraham because of something he had done. According to Joshua we know that Abraham worshiped false “gods” before God called him. God doesn’t love us because of anything we have or have not done. His love for Abraham, His love for us isn’t based on our worthiness at all, but on His goodness.
James 2:23 says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.”
A second vital factor contributing to endearing friendships is that of loyalty and dependability. If you reflect on those people you count as your closest friends, it is those who have been loyal to you through thick and thin. It is those who you can count upon when the chips are down. Maybe it is your spouse or one or two others that you count as close friends. We all have acquaintances we call our friends… but in life we may have one or two intimate close friends.
Remember our definition? The term "friend" conveys a sense of closeness, trust, and sharing. Very simply, friendship means a close or confidential friendship. This is the kind of relationship Jesus is talking about. He wants to be our close, intimate friend, not an acquaintance.