Summary: God said it was not good for the man to be alone, and yet too many people are more isolated than ever. Using a clip from the popular TV series "This is Us" we address the question of "How can we witness to others?"
OPEN: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn9aSZ7uPXI – video clip from “This Is Us” of conversation between Katie and a woman she’s helped. See Footnote)
APPLY: That clip came from a scene in a popular TV series called “THIS IS US”. Katie (one of the main characters in the show) is helping a girl who has been hurt and is struggling with her self-image. What caught my attention in their conversation was this phrase:
“I can’t believe it… I finally have a best friend.”
ILLUS: About 10 years ago there was a famous study called Alameda County Study overseen by a social scientist from Harvard. It tracked the lives of 7,000 people over nine years, and what they found was:
The most isolated people (people with few relationships in their lives) were 3 times more likely to die than those with strong relationships. In fact, people who had strong friendships but bad health habits (such as smoking, obesity, or alcohol) lived significantly longer than the people who had GREAT health habits… but isolated.
As one person commented on that study said “In other words, it is better to eat Twinkies with good friends than to eat broccoli alone.” [Ortberg, John (2008-04-01). “Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them” (p. 33). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.]
The point is this… we need friends. We desperately need friends - people who are there for us and people who care for us. And God knows that. In fact, the very 1st problem God saw with His creation had to do with loneliness.
When God had created stars and the plants, and fish and the birds – every time He created something He’d say “that’s GOOD”. And when He created Adam, God declared: that’s “very good”. But then God after He created Adam… God said: “It is NOT good that the man should be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
ILLUS: A study done about 12 years indicated a very sad truth. The American Sociological Review cited evidence that Americans have a 1/3 fewer close friends today than they hid a couple of decades ago. Even more disturbing, the data seemed to indicate that the number of us who had NOBODY to count as a close personal friend had more than DOUBLED. (firstname.lastname@example.org July 11, 2006)
It is NOT GOOD that a man, or a woman, should be alone - and God knows that. That’s why Jesus created the Church. Ephesians 5:25 tells us that “Christ… loved the church and gave himself up for her…” And Jesus died to establish the church, in part, so that we could have a place where we could be with other Christians and build friendships.
You see, Christianity is built on friendship. Jesus said: “You are my FRIENDS if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you FRIENDS, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:14-15
When you and I became Christians (when we took our faith seriously and did what He commanded) THEN we became friends of Jesus. And that’s the pattern Jesus intended us to have in the church - we are HIS friends… and we so we should be friends of EACH OTHER.
That’s why Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us – that as Christians – we should “… consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...”
But that doesn’t always happen. Too many folks see church as just a time when they do “religious stuff”. They sing a few songs, pray a few prayers, take communion, listen to a sermon… then get out the door quick enough to beat the other churches to the local restaurant.
NO!!! That’s only part of what we’re supposed to doing as a church. Acts 2:42 tells us that the early church dedicated themselves to 4 things when it started out: they “… devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (preaching) and FELLOWSHIP, to the breaking of bread (communion) and the prayers.”
You see, part of the purpose of church is building FELLOWSHIP - developing friendships.
So John 15 tells us that Jesus is OUR friend. And then other scriptures explain that NOW Jesus expects us to use HIS friendship with us as a model of how we should develop friendships with each other. That’s why our church motto is this: “Where Visitors Become Friends And Friends Become Family.
(Cool, huh? I thought that one up all by myself… or else I stole it from someone. I can’t remember which).
Now, with that thought in mind - I want to shift my focus to talk about what I want to talk about today. Today’s Sermon is designed to set things up for Next Sunday. And what is Next Sunday? It’s Friend Sunday. We have special cards you can hand out to your friends and neighbors to invite them to be with us.