Train to Live on Mission – Week 13

Battle Drill #13:

Iron Sharpens Iron: Biblical Friendship

 

Today is a cool day for a lot of reasons- it was 20 years ago, in May 2002, that I accepted the job as the youth pastor here at FBC, moved to NC, and started out as a young person in her first full-time ministry role. Also it was 18 years ago today, May 8 2004 that I married Daniel who I met at this church. I’m really thankful for the way FBC has been supporting Daniel and me in ministry for years, and I’m so grateful to be able to live out God’s calling on my life in ministry while still being firmly rooted here in our local church- that’s a blessing! Thank you for supporting and encouraging us to keep following God’s leading.

 

Even though my full-time ministry is outside these four walls, it’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to use my gifts and serve in different ways here at FBC, and I love when Jerry asks me if I’d like to teach so thanks for that, thanks for allowing me to still serve and lead here.

 

Today I am not going to talk about motherhood or Mother’s Day, but I do want to say a couple things about Mother’s Day before I get started. First off, I will say that being a mom is incredibly rewarding even when it’s also really hard. To the moms in the room, I know what you had to do to get your people and all their stuff together just to arrive here today, and you younger moms who are pretty tired from this week, but you still got your kids up and going today and probably took care of the gifts for your own mom and mother-in-laws, way to go, you are absolute champs. To all of you in the room that are moms, I want to say thank you for all the work you do and have done to keep the humans in your house alive- you’ve done a great job. To the moms, stepmoms and grandmothers, spiritual moms, single moms, all of you in this room who are helping to raise or who have raised kids, thank you for what you do- you are amazing and you make the world keep running. I also want to acknowledge that Mother’s Day is a painful day for some of us in this room, and if that’s true for you, I want you to know that you are seen and you belong today just as much as those who are celebrating. Mother’s Day can be hard for

those of us who miss our moms, or whose moms hurt us. It also might be a hard day for those of us who have lost a child, or whose kids have caused us heartache and motherhood has not been like we wish it was. And I know some of us have desperately wanted to be moms and it just hasn’t happened. You are seen and you belong in this room and we honor you as well.  Scripture says that we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  And so if you’re celebrating today, then happy Mother’s Day- your mom life is something to be proud of! And if you’re hurting today, we love you and we care about you. However you showed up today, you belong here and we are in this together. So I’d like to pray in that spirit.

 

PRAY.

 

I want to invite you to get out your bible and expect to open it and actually read it today. If you don’t have one, use your phone and I would suggest you look it up in the New Living Translation because that’s what I read and then my words will match what you’re looking at.

 

Today we are going to talk about friendship, biblical friendship. We have been going through the book of Proverbs, and today I picked Proverbs 27:17 as our key verse. And since it is only 10 words long, we’re going to look at several other passages and see what the Bible has to say about being a good friend and having good friends, the way Jesus intended for those who follow him. So let’s look at Proverbs 27:17 as our jumping off point today- it’s so short it’ll take way longer for you to find it than to read it but I still think it’s a good practice to actually read the words for yourself so please turn there with me.

 

PROVERBS 27:17  

 

TURN to a person near you and share, what do you think that means? in your own words, what does this proverb talking about?

 

When I was a senior in college, just a few months before I graduated and moved here actually, that spring my grandpa died. It was my first grandparent to pass away, and really the first person close to me at all to die. I went to school in Anderson, and I drove home from school to be here for a few days. The hardest part for sure was seeing my own dad grieve- and it just rocked my world a little, like it does when you lose a grandparent. I missed a couple days of classes, and was here in town for a few days, and I remember very distinctly something that happened the day of the calling. My senior year, I lived in a house with 6 other girls that had been close friends all through college. And I hadn’t been there all week of course, and I was really looking forward to seeing my friends because it had been a hard week. And that night, at the calling for my grandpa, not a single one of my roommates showed up. Thankfully, my closest friend from childhood and high school actually came, and I remember how thankful I was when Tiffany walked in the door. It meant even more to me because others hadn’t come. That same friend was the first person to arrive at the hospital the day my son Caleb’s heart stopped and she was the first person to come to the hospital the day he finally got word that he was going to receive a new heart. When a friend shows up for you and loves you like that, you never forget. But not only do you not forget it, it impacts you deeply. Being loved by a true friend shapes who we are as people. Being loved like that increases our own capacity to love and care for others- love produces more love. A good friend produces more good friends.

 

Having true friends and being a true friend is possibly the most important part of our human lives and yet it’s something that so many of us struggle with. We want to have great friendships and we want to be terrific friends but so often that’s not how it goes. And the thing is, God actually cares a whole lot about the quality of our friendships. In fact, our relationships with each other are so incredibly important that the Bible is full of instruction on how we are to treat each other- In John 17, Jesus went so far as to say that for Christians, the way we love and treat each other will show the world what God is like. So friendship is a big deal and its an area of our lives that we need to be intentional about.

 

I want to do 3 things in this sermon time today.
  1. I want to look back at the early church and see how the first Christians did friendship and community.
  2. I want to address how different friendship and community are in our own current culture. and
  3. I want to see how we can actually obey God’s design for us and have the kind of friendships He intended for his people to have.

 

So let’s turn to the book of Acts and see how early Christians did friendship.

 

Let’s talk about the story of the early church.

 

The believers stuck together after Jesus ascended. They spent their time together, met together and prayed together. Once they were given the Holy Spirit and the Church was birthed, they oriented their whole lives around the faith community.(Acts 2) They went to

Temple together, then ate meals in each others’ homes. They shared their needs and helped each other. They prayed and worshiped together. They experienced amazing fellowship with each other and had sincere unity.

 

Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-36, Acts 5:12-16

The Church grew and grew and grew until there were thousands of Christians. But their mountaintop experience didn’t last forever. In Acts 8, we see that persecution began, and Christians were being arrested and even killed, so they fled Jerusalem and were scattered all throughout the region. But God was at work in this! Acts 8:4 says “the believers who were scattered preached the Good news about Jesus wherever they went”. Christianity spread and new, smaller Churches were popping up. We read letters Paul wrote to these believers, and the Churches that were eventually formed because of their scattering, and one of the most common themes was Paul urging the Christians to stick together and continue to help and love each other well.  You can’t read the NT without seeing the overwhelming message that Christians are supposed to function as one unit, just as Jerry preaches each week! We train together, we learn together, we obey Jesus TOGETHER. This is a team sport, guys!

 

When we read the first few chapters of Acts, it’s not hard to see how the church has changed. And I’m not talking about the logistics of how worship services were conducted- I’m talking about how the early Christians oriented their life around the life of their community, their church. They didn’t have church buildings, that’s not what they were about- they were about each other. They were together and they went through life together as a family.

 

Let’s talk about how much has changed and what it’s like to be a Christian or to be part of a church in America in 2022…
  • we treat church as a once a week activity that is mostly about what happens on the stage, while we sit and view the program.
  • people like to be anonymous, or now more than ever “watch” church online. That’s like going to the fieldhouse and watching a basketball game and saying you played basketball! Let’s be honest- we want church to be like this because it costs us so little. It’s low-energy, low-time, low-investment of ourselves.
  • we are individualistic to our core. Life is about me and what’s best for me and what I prefer and what makes me happy.
  • we are proud and independent- I don’t want to need people. I depend on myself and that way I won’t be let down. And heaven forbid I let people see what needs I really have in my life, that would be humiliating.
  • we are BUSY and disconnected
 

So how can we obey Jesus and have the kind of friendships he intended his people to have?

  • HEBREWS 10:24-25   — Be here and make it a priority: we have to be present, in the life of the church and in each other’s personal lives. Be there! Be here!
  • MARK 5:24-34 Ñ> Take a risk and allow yourself to be known: we have to be vulnerable
  • Make an effort to connect with people: we have to initiate
  • Evaluate yourself and your life and see your stumbling blocks: we have to be honest with ourselves.  Are you afraid and trying to be self-protective?  Are you too busy and really need to re-think your commitments and how you spend your time?  Are you spending time with the wrong people?  Are you convinced that you’re introverted or a homebody and you just don’t need much from other people?
 
 
 

You can watch the message by clicking HERE.

 
 
 

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