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Life Matters

True Friends…

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(11/3) The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians chapter five. “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). Today we continue our new series “The Bride and Christ” and we will see that Christian marriage, like all of our close relationships is more than a commitment… it’s more than sacrifice… it’s part of each of our life’s journey designed to help us know God better… to trust him more fully… and to love him more deeply.

Everything about our closest Christian relationships is filled with the potential and the capacity for discovering and revealing Christ's character in you. The deepest of that being in marriage, the love and respect you give your spouse… the forgiveness you seek and so graciously give… the ecstasy of quiet intimacy… the history that you create together uncovers the mystery of God's purpose in your lives.

As we unravel this most profound mystery together, it will most certainly change you, because all Christian relationships can become a doorway to a closer walk with God. And my goal is, that as we develop a healthy biblical view of Christian marriage, our view of others will change, and life as we know it will change, as we unleash the potential of friends.

Now today the term friend is a completely overused and abused. You go to Facebook and you’ve got a lot of friends. But, you don’t… you see they don’t all grab a kazoo and show up at your birthday party… they don’t all know the intimate details of your life... and in all honesty they don’t all care. So the way we’ve become accustomed to using the word is way too casual. And today we’re going to look at the words of Jesus on the topic of friends. We’re going to look at our friendships with Jesus and with one another. So let’s read together in John’s Gospel, in chapter 15, at verses 9-17:

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.” NIV

Here in John 15, Jesus calls his disciples his friends. He says that he lays down his life for his friends. So anyone who’s received Jesus as Lord is a friend of Jesus right? But if we look at the Gospels, if we look at Jesus’ earthly life, the truth is he only had really three close friends: Peter, James, and John. They were there at the Mount of Transfiguration. They were there at the Garden of Gethsemane. They were there for the most intimate moments of Jesus’ life. They had privileged access to him.

And so I believe we can learn from the life of Jesus that we should be friendly toward all and friends with a few, because friendship is expensive. It takes time, energy, and emotion. You can’t have tons of friends. Some of you might think, you have lots of friends, but you don’t… you have a lot of relationships, but not all those relationships are true friendships… they can’t be…

1. Loving one another.

Here’s why. Friendship is a two way street; meaning that you both need to work on your friendship… you both need to be devoted to working on your relationship. And when I say that I don’t mean… well its not getting all your “friends” involved… it is not spilling your guts on Facebook… it is not hundreds of minutes texting each other… its not. It is working on your friendship. It is purposefully building that closest and most important friendship that God gave you.

Now, what I often hear from couples is, “Well, we’ve fallen out of love.” Well let me just tell you right up front, people don’t fall out of love… they fall out of repentance… but they don’t fall out of love. People will say things like that because they want to attempt to toss away their responsibility to love others. If they’re not feeling loved or they don’t feel like loving they start looking around at other relationships. But that’s really just another way of saying that God’s a liar, because the Bible says, “Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

So God is telling us that we can even love our enemies. And the love that we have for our enemies is a love that comes from God because God is love. And so even when we’re not feeling particularly friendly toward our spouse, our parents, sibling or friend we can still love them with the love that God gives. First John 4 says repeatedly, “God is love.” And that means that love doesn’t begin with us. It begins with him. Love doesn’t come from us. It comes from him. The love that we can have for our spouse, our family, and our friends is a divine love… it’s a supernatural love… it’s a grace-oriented love from God, because God is love. And even if our spouse is in sin, our brother is in sin, or we’re in sin, God has love for us through them and God has love for them through us. So it’s the love of God emanating through us.

And so as Christians, we have access to the source of true love… the love of God. That’s why Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is what? …it’s love! So God the Holy Spirit has love for God the Son and God the Father… they’re intimate friends. And as the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of the born again believer, he brings with him the love of God, so that we can be friends with God, but not only that… we can love and build a friendship with our friend, our brother, sister and spouse. It’s a miracle, and it’s something that God makes available to all Christians.

So today do not throw in the towel… don’t quit… but resolve by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the love that God gives, to be committed to the well-being of that significant other.

2. Committed to another.

You see friendship is a specific kind of relationship. Its specific and its committed. You can only have a few friends. Jesus had three. And maybe this morning some of you would say, “Yes, that’s what I want. I want a real friendship.” Well, here’s the key to having friends: being friendly.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Now I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen a friendly person lonely. I’ve seen a bitter, self-righteous, judgmental people lonely. But I’ve never seen a friendly person lonely. If you want to have friends, learn to be friendly. If your significant other isn’t a good friend, use this as an opportunity to be a better friend and see if they don’t respond in kind.

So friendship is not only loving one another… its a commitment to the well-being of another… maybe like having fun together. I don’t know if you know this, but it’s okay to have fun together. You should. Shall God delay his coming again it is going to be a long time. You may as well make a few good memories.

King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 says, “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun— all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.”

Here’s what Solomon’s saying. Life is short. The word translated “meaningless,” appears some thirty-eight times in the book of Ecclesiastes. In the Hebrew, it’s hebel. The book starts with that word, “Hebel, hebel, says the teacher. Life is hebel.” The question is, “What is life?” I think, in this context, the word is best rendered, “fleeting.”

You wake up in the morning. You take a breath, and it’s cold out, and you see your breath and then it’s gone. He’s saying life is like that. It moves really fast. Those of you with kids see the kids are growing up. We’re getting old. It’s moving fast.

What Solomon’s saying is life is so fast, you just need to get up, forgive one another’s sin, go out have something to eat, have some fun, make some memories, and laugh a little bit to the glory of God. It’s true, because one of the attributes of God is joy, and he wants us to enjoy marriage and life with our friend.

So, he’s encouraging us to enjoy life together. Make some memories. Maybe take some pictures so you can revisit the memories. You know… “That was hilarious. That was fun. You look great. Let’s do that again…. Let’s go there again…”

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

A friend is committed. They are there when times are good and they could celebrate… they’re there when times are bad and they can comfort.

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

You see a true, devoted, friendship is there for all seasons of life, good and bad, rejoice when it’s time to rejoice, weep when it’s time to weep, they hang in there through adversity, and whatever life brings you.

3. Sanctifying one another.

And lastly friendship has a sanctifying effect on each other. Sanctifying means to be made holy and so what I mean is that our close intimate relationships show us our sin. They do don’t they? You know it’s like those family relationships… they seem to bring the best out of us right? There is no pretense… so if we repent of it and bring Jesus into it… if we bring Jesus into it… we become more like Jesus together…. we become more holy.

Now some of you, if you’re married, your spouse hasn’t changed you; they’ve revealed you… they have. You might think you weren’t like that until you got married, but you were… there just weren’t any witnesses… right? And so now as your sin is exposed, and some of you will push away from them physically, emotionally, or spiritually… because they’re revealing stuff about you that you don’t like. But here is what we have to do… we have to repent of it. We have to give it to Jesus who died for it. Ask their forgiveness for it. Become more like Jesus.

Remember the words of Jesus on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Be purposeful and intentionally sanctify it… that behavior, that habit, that attitude, that whatever it is… because if you’re not being sanctified, you’re just going to blow through one relationship after another. But if you’re intentional… if you’re being sanctified… you can get a new marriage with the same spouse, because you and your spouse, by the grace of God, become new people. That’s sanctification… and it works in every relationship.

You know I hear this from couples all the time, “I know God wants me to be happy!” Well here’s a news flash, God wants you to be holy. You know the guy you worship… the guy who was betrayed, flogged, and crucified… he didn’t hang on the cross and say, “The Father wants me to be happy.” The reason Jesus died was to make us holy. The reason Jesus rose was to make us holy. And holy people are happy people.

Pursue holiness… be sanctified and if God should give you happiness, praise God… but you know… if God doesn’t give you happiness, you’ll find happiness in the holiness.

Sanctify your friendships, you’ll expose their sin, they’ll expose your sin, and you both need Jesus, so that his death can be the life of your friendship and that you both can become more like him.

Proverbs 13:20 says it this way: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” We become like those whom we choose as our closest friends. That’s why the Bible says, in 1 Corinthians, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God…” (15:33-34). You see some people regularly make poor choices in friends, because they want to sin with them and they want to become like them. Your best and most intimate friends, beginning with your spouse, should be wise, so that you can be a wise friend for them, so that together, you would grow to be more like Jesus. And you should want to… in every way… to see them grow to be more like Jesus.

And I know some of you are in very difficult relationships, life is hard, and them being sanctified is incredibly painful process, it’s not easy, because they’re hard-hearted, they’re stubborn, and they’re tough. And some of you would look at God and say, “God, don’t you love me?” He does, he loves you, and he loves them. And he’s not punished you, but he’s sent you on a divine mission to serve them, to love them, to pursue them, to forgive them, to help them; and to reveal Jesus to them in a humble, sacrificial, loving way. And as you do, by the grace of God, you’ll realize that they’re not the only sinner in the equation and that God is using them to sanctify you, as well.

That being said… how’s your friendship with Jesus?

The old song says "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear."

Through the years Jesus is the one friend who sticks with you through it all. He wants to be that friend for you. People can fire you, abuse you, criticize you, divorce you, disappoint you, abandon you, but millions have found that Jesus is life's one and only "through it all" friend. Often that intimacy is born from difficulty. When the Apostle Paul said his life goal was to "know Christ," he went on to say that involved knowing "the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings" (Philippians 3:10). You see you never really know Jesus until you really need Jesus. And when you really, really need Him, He's really, really there. That’s the kind of friend he is.

He described the amazing relationship He wants to have with each us as He was talking to His disciples that night in verse 13, Jesus says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants... instead I have called you friends." If you have that love relationship with Jesus, there is nothing the two of you can't handle, because the Bible says, "if God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

And if you don't have that love relationship with Him, it could start today if you will give your life to this One who loves you so deeply that He paid for your sins with His life. You see our sins are serious business, and they carry a death penalty which Jesus paid for you. Now I don't know if you've had a lot of relationships, and you hoped each one would be that safe place for your heart, but time and again it wasn't. Jesus is that relationship you’ve been seeking… you need to be in the safety of His love. You don't need one more day without Him. Pray to him today. Ask for his forgiveness. Tell him you’re his. Open your heart.

"What a friend we have in Jesus." That's more than a song. It's a life you can have.

Read past sermons by Pastor John Talcott

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