buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Friends”

Friends Matter

First off, it’s been a few months since I’ve written anything for this space. After the move and the chaos that this country has been in, I just haven’t been in the correct head space to sit down and write. I am trying to change my mindset so hopefully I will be a bit more consistent in the future.

A conversation yesterday helped me to think on a few things. The topic was on friendship. One of my weaknesses is I cannot think on my feet fast enough to have a comeback in a conversation. I am a great listener but terrible responder. The conversation had me thinking throughout the evening and began again upon waking this morning. I tend to think about things until I write them down. So here I am writing this down.

The conversation led to the final statement, “well, Jesus hung around sinners and we shouldn’t judge.” All true. First and foremost – we are all sinners. Nobody is without sin except Jesus. He proved He could withstand any sin. He told religious ones who were questioning Him He came for sinners – to save the lost. We’re all lost so who else was He going to hang around?

However, He had ones He poured into to give them an opportunity to change. He had twelve He made His disciples. They were to learn from Him and see what He did and how they were to carry on the message. Eleven got it, one didn’t.

Jesus also had an inner circle; they were the only ones who witnessed special moments. They were not to tell of those moments until a later date (after His resurrection). Jesus knew people’s hearts. He knew who was ready to hear His message and those who were looking for an excuse to take away His platform of change. The religious ones hated Him. Jesus’ message challenged them and they were not willing to listen.

Jesus always pointed His friends to God the Father. Those who turned away from their sins, sought God’s forgiveness, they changed and hung around Jesus more to learn from Him. Their sin pattern changed. They still sinned, but the conviction was there when they did. You see this in Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus when Jesus was arrested. Peter was one of the inner circle friends. Imagine the hurt Jesus felt even though He knew Peter would deny Him. Imagine Peter’s hurt when he realized what he had done. Peter wept bitterly because of what he had done.

From the beginning, Peter knew he was a sinner. Early on in Jesus’ ministry, Peter told Jesus after Jesus had performed a miracle – “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8).But Jesus had chosen Peter, even with his faults, because Jesus knew Peter would have a change of heart. Peter would become a fisherman for men and would be successful at it. Peter left his livelihood and left everything behind to follow Jesus. And Peter did become very successful at drawing people to Jesus after he received the promised Holy Spirit at Pentecost (see the story in Acts 2).

Jesus hung around sinners, yes. But He didn’t leave them that way. The ones who heard and responded to His message changed. Tax collectors changed how they did business. A woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus to be condemned. But Jesus didn’t condemn her. He said the first one without sin should throw the first stone. No one threw a stone at her because they had all sinned and fallen short of God’s Law – this Law was given so that the people who know when they sinned. God’s Law was put in place to give His people guardrails to stay within His boundaries. But it was impossible for God’s people to live that way in their sinful nature.

So Jesus – the one without sin – did not throw a stone either. He told the woman to go and sin no more. Yes, it’s impossible to live as God requires. It’s impossible to live without sin. However, Jesus came to give us a new life. He saves us from our sinful life. Our pattern of sins is broken. We are convicted when we sin and confess it to Him. He forgives our sins and we walk away cleansed. It’s a difference of consistency. We no longer are consistently committing the same sins. When we received God’s forgiveness, we are changed.

Back to the friend issue that started this blog posting.

I know when I gave my life to Jesus I could no longer hang out with the people I knew before. It wasn’t they were bad people; I enjoyed hanging out with them. But they wouldn’t lead me where I needed to go. I needed different people to help me on this walk that I’m on with Jesus. I needed a different set of inner circle friends who would encourage me on this journey with Jesus. I am still friends with some of those I hung out with, but it’s different than it was before. They are not my inner circle.

Friends matter. We need them. And we don’t leave our friends behind; they need Jesus too. One of our purposes when we give our lives to Jesus is to lead others to Him. If they are not willing or fill the need to change, then it’s not our responsibility to change them. But we are to love them and pray for them to have a heart change. We are to be near them when they are ready to hear about this Jesus we love. When the time is right and Jesus has touched them through us, then they will see their need for our friend Jesus and be changed.

The bottom line is to choose friends wisely. If they are not leading us toward Jesus, then they are leading us away. It matters who you hang with. First and foremost, stay connected with Jesus and He will lead you to the right people to be in your inner circle. The rest of our friends may not have as much of our time as before, but unless Jesus says to let them go, then stay close enough to influence them but far enough that they don’t influence you.

The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

The Tribe

We live at the most social time in history. We have never been as connected as we are today. Looking at my Facebook friends, I realized there were friends from every aspect of my life represented. I have a few childhood friends and a few friends from high school. I lived in two different places during those two seasons and had to make new friends in my new place. I moved on to college, and friends from college are included on Facebook.

There are several friends from different employment opportunities. There are church friends represented as well over the years. The neat thing about Facebook is connection. Through Facebook, we can still experience life together even though we’re miles apart. Well, that’s the idea. I’m not sure we’re really experiencing that same connection as we once did in real life. My friends I’ve had over the years have shaped me into the person I am today. We have experienced something special. We each made it through our seasons together.

We survived childhood together – not everyone does. We survived high school. Today, it’s a wonder anyone gets through those difficult years. However, we made it. Then college, the experiences we had back then, well, I don’t really talk much about those times. It’s like Vegas, what happens in college stays in college (for the most part). It’s done, it’s in the past; but friendships are made solid in those years because of the experience we had together.

Work and church in those early years – the growth that happens – it really shapes us. Mentors help us through. We learn from them then we move on to a new place to learn and grow from there. Every step of the way, friends have helped us to survive and thrive. Connections are great, but experiences shape us.

There are a few on my Facebook account who I don’t really know, but hopefully the encouraging words they find on my page helps them too. It’s all about community. The school I went to in New York for health coaching called community our tribe. We were called to be leaders of our tribe; to show them the way to a healthier, better life. They encouraged us to reach out and build our tribe – it helps us as we gain a bigger platform to spread the message of change.

One of my favorite television shows is Survivor. I love the concept of putting people in an uncomfortable island setting to survive for thirty-nine days. I wouldn’t do it, but I love to watch others do it. They have to pull together to build their shelter before darkness falls on the first day. They have to be able to make fire, find food and water in order to survive for the next three days.

Then the games really begin. Games are for rewards and for elimination. The teams have to work together in order to outlast the other teams. Eventually, every person has to take on the challenge solely to survive until the next round. But through the time on the island, alliances are formed. The social game is really the key to becoming the sole survivor to win the million dollar prize.

We are social creatures. God made us that way. Community is the key to our survival. Jesus had His tribe as well. He reached out to twelve men who were His disciples. Jesus had an inner circle of three who He picked to share His more intimate experiences. There were a few more that followed Him as well. Mary, Martha and Lazarus seemed to be very important to Him. He stayed with them whenever He was near Jerusalem. Jesus had crowds following Him wherever He went. But crowds are fickle. They tend to follow as long as their needs are met. There was no real connection to the crowds. They followed until the message became too hard to bear.

Some friends are like that as well. They stay with us as long as their needs are met until we disappoint them or hurt them. But true friends are with us through thick and thin – hard times and great times. True friends stay when the crowds leave. The twelve stayed with Jesus even when the crowds left. They were determined to stay even if it meant death to them. Eventually, they too left when it was apparent Jesus wasn’t going to make it out of His circumstances. Jesus was going to die and the twelve scattered – well, eleven scattered. The twelfth had already left Him for thirty pieces of silver. Judas betrayed Jesus for the cost of a slave.

Jesus is the sign of a true friend. After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus found His disciples and restored the relationship. He didn’t leave them but sought them out. He found Peter who denied Jesus and gave Peter a new purpose. Jesus set Peter’s course. He strengthened and encouraged Peter to follow His example. Jesus’ tribe changed the world. We are living in this time with the resources we have because of the tribe of Jesus.

Friendships matter. Connections and experiences make us who we are to become. We are told in God’s Word not to forsake the gathering together – our church community keeps us on the right path. We need each other in order to survive and thrive in this life. Thank you, friends, for being a part of my life. You make me better for the experiences we share. Let’s continue to learn and grow together. Our world needs us to be connected – we could change the world by the love we share with one another.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

Friends

Many times in my life I have had many friends who have been my party friends or my friends of convenience (work, school, etc). There are a few friends who have lasted through the years – those who have stayed with me through thick and thin. I am so thankful today for my friends who are my sisters and brothers in Christ. They are my rock when I am in those rocky places. They are the ones who have comforted me in my dark times. They are the ones who celebrate with me when victory is at hand. But they are special to me when we can sit down together and be real with one another. Those friends are rare and are greatly treasured.

Jesus had his inner circle of friends who he allowed to see Him as the Holy One. Peter, James and John were allowed to see His transformation when Moses and Elijah came for a visit. They were allowed into a moment of great distress when Jesus was praying for a new way of salvation and not the way of the cross. They were allowed to see Jesus completely. King David had Jonathon, King Saul’s heir to the throne. There are times when you need an inner circle of friends who will carry you when you just don’t have the strength to move forward. They are the ones who will be there through every trial and will experience the victories with you.

I am blessed to have friends these days where our time is spent on praising God rather than complaining about circumstances. I can share what God is doing, and they can do the same. I can share about my struggles and know that I will be prayed for. I know when I bring something to their attention; they will be there with me in my struggle. God has been good to bring me people in my circle of influence that encourages me and helps me to walk out this life with accountability.

I know we are not meant to walk alone through this life. God places us in a community that will encourage us and help us in our daily life. For far too long I tried to do things on my own. I thought I could handle my struggles in secret. God has shown me otherwise. He illustrates the point of community as a body with each member being important to function as a whole. He says when two or more are gathered in His name, He will be in our midst. I love the fact that I am never alone in my struggles anymore. God alone is able to make us whole and new. But He puts friends around us to help in the process. God’s ways are perfect, and I rejoice today because of the friends I have been given!

For all of my friends, I appreciate every prayer lifted up before the throne on my behalf. I appreciate every word spoken that encourages me. I appreciate the opportunity to walk with you in your struggles as well. I appreciate we are not made to be alone. I hope that I will be able to live my life with my dear friends until the very end – and then show up in heaven rejoicing even more! It’s going to be a glorious homecoming one day!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

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