True Friendship

I read this excellent post by CHS in his devotional "Faith Thoughts" - it handles the subject of Friendship and deficient toxic friends that steal energy and cause compromise in people's lives. I am taking the liberty to quote the whole article on this blog today. 

"John 15:12-15, Friendship is a blessing and a provision, but it must never be permitted to replace the priority of Christ's Lordship. The test of true friendship is whether it honors the Word. It does not lead to compromise, but builds up both believers in the faith and in the Body of Christ (the church). Friendship is not to be used as a support system, but as a communication of love. True friends may be separated for long periods of time, yet enjoy a closer fellowship than people who are together every day. Friendship does not compromise obedience to the cross, but encourages the daily appropriation of the truth of the finished work! Rather than a relationship centered around self-gratification, true friendship expresses the burden and heartbeat of Jesus Christ to redeem believers to Himself. Subjective, personality rapport relationships are destructive, but godly ones will result in doctrinal rapport around the principles of truth. Lonely people often seek gratification and fulfillment through friendship, but this is a selfish motive based on temporal needs. Friendships that are premised upon eternal values bind the hearts of men in spiritual oneness (2). This type of relationship is only possible because of the grace of God functioning in the heart of man. This is through identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus, we see that the Word of God is the basis for true friendship."

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. - John 15:12-15

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:16

The Story of Squanto - a Little Known Thanksgiving Hero


In the early 1600s, the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-NO-ag) Indians covered the coast of what we now call New England. They raised crops, living close to the ocean in summer for seafood, moving inland in winter to set up hunting camps. Their encounters with Europeans over the years were mostly friendly.
One exception: In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag, along with a Patuxet named Squanto, to be sold into slavery in Spain. A Spanish monk purchased Squanto's freedom, taught him English, and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1619, Squanto returned to his native land, only to find his tribe wiped out by an epidemic. Thereafter he made his home with the Wampanoag.
Meanwhile, in 1608, a British group called the Separatists fled to Leyden, Holland. There they found religious freedom, but also poverty, grueling work hours and a secular culture that threatened to undo the values they had carefully instilled into their children. In 1620, they sold everything and indentured themselves for seven years to finance their journey to America.
On the Mayflower, the Separatists were joined by those seeking the new land for other reasons; these they called the Strangers. The two groups, 102 altogether, were called the Pilgrims.
Their journey lasted nine weeks. In one of those "accidents" which change the course of history, the ship lost its course and landed far north of its destination at what we now call Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Once outside the territory covered by the King's Charter, the Pilgrims became responsible for their own government, and so they wrote a set of laws called The Mayflower Compact.
On December 21, 1620, they began their new life at the place they named Plymouth.
It was a devastating winter -- whipped with wind and sleet and snow. Half the Pilgrims died. Still the Separatists clung to their faith; not one chose to return to England with the Mayflower that spring.
But spring brought unexpected relief w the help of a noble and generous Christian brother -- Squanto. He taught them how to grow corn, use fertilizer, stalk deer and catch fish. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, wrote of Squanto that he was "a special instrument sent of God for good beyond their expectations."
And so their first harvest was good. Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God and the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends. Chief Massasoit and 90 members of his tribe came, along with Squanto, bearing venison and wild turkeys for all to share. Together in harmony, the Pilgrims and the Indians feasted, played games, ran races and showed their prowess with bow and arrow and musket.
How thankful were the Pilgrims? The first Thanksgiving took three whole days!

Closing the Gap between You & the Millennialists, Gen Y & Gen Z

With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”  

Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens:
"Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook.
Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future.
Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation.
Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn. 

But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a  budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living. 

We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)

What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship.  The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value. 

When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care. 

Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life. 

The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers. 

There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z

The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian

7 Characteristics of True Friendship

We've been teaching on a series of the Life of David which has been a rich journey. We are now on the subject of Jonathan & David's Covenant Friendship. Here are a few points on our message.

The most sacred relationships are friendships that have gone through the Cross. Many people do not have real friendships because they haven't allowed their relationships to go through the Cross. When a friendship goes through the Cross, the flesh and self is crucified and buried, and Christ is risen within the spiritual souls of the individuals.

The Bible says in John 15:13 that the greatest friendship is manifested when someone lays down his life for a friend. Jesus said to His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I tell you. I will no longer call you servants, for a servant doesn't know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have told you every single thing that My Father has told Me” (see John 15:14-15). 

Jesus was the greatest example of a friend - a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34). Think of it! Jesus Christ knows everything about us. There is not one thing hidden from Him; yet, He desires to be our personal friend - 1 Jn 3.20. This is our great confidence - “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b)


7 Traits of Godly Friendship

1. Godly Friends Love Sacrificially - 1 Sam 18.1-5
John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends 

Let God chose your friends for you. If we choose our friends based only on what they have to offer, or what we need - we'll rarely discover the blessings of a genuine friendship. Need based relationships become a curse and an end in their own. Philippians 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 


Being fufllled in your relationship with God means you approach your relationships full and not from deficit producing toxic relationships. By valuing your friend's needs above your own, you'll be on your way to loving like Jesus. In the process, you'll likely gain a true friend.


2. Godly Friends Love Unconditionally - 1 Sam 19:2
Proverbs 17:17 - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. God loved Peter out of his failure. Jn 13 "Loved you till the end" - Telos - completion of His work in you

We discover the best of friendships with brothers and sisters who know, love, cover and challenge our weaknesses and imperfections. A true friend tells the truth. Only your enemy would not tell you the truth because he wants you to be just like him.

If we're easily offended or hold on to bitterness, we'll have a hard time loving people. No one is perfect. We cannot be looking for idealistic relationship. People make mistakes. If we take a truthful look at ourselves, we'll admit that we bear some of the blame when things go wrong in a friendship. A true friend is quick to ask forgiveness and ready to be forgiving and when you are in trouble, Not a conditional friendship


3. Godly Friends Trust God Completely for you. 
The Bible says that in order to have friends, you need to show yourself friendly (Proverbs 18:24a); showing ourselves friendly goes beyond the niceness of friendship. Hebrew play on words - friends "ra'ah" but friendly "ra'a" meaning the "h" falls off. There is something we lose in friendship. There is vulnerability. Risk. Chose to trust. Trust is the currency of relationships.


4. Godly Friends Keep Healthy Boundaries - 2 Sam 1.26
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy ... Soul power relationships. Phileo vs. Agape love.

David and Jonathans friendship went beyond the physical and soulish but was grounded in something spiritual. Godly friendships set people free - not putting them in bondage. If you feel smothered in a friendship, something is wrong. Likewise, if you feel used or abused, something is amiss. Recognizing what's best for someone and giving that person space are signs of a healthy relationship. We should never let a friend come between us and our spouse. A true Christian friend will wisely avoid intruding and recognize your need to maintain other relationships. It is not possessive or controlling, manipulative. It is not cliquish or party spirited.


5. Godly Friends Give Mutual Edification - 2 Sam 1.20 
Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a friend can be trusted ...
True Christian friends will build each other up emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Mutually encouraging in the faith walk and growth. Proverbs 27:17 means when it says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Does this friendship encourage me to grow in my calling?


6. Covereth a multitude of sins - 2 Sam 1.20
Proverbs 17:9 says, “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a
matter separateth very friends - Proverbs 10.12, 17.9 - 1 Peter 4.8 - Friends do not repeat people’s sins or gossip. Mat 18.15 - They go alone to a friend to deal with a matter. They forgive AND forget.


7. A Covenant Friendship - 1 Samuel 18:1-3 & 2 Sam 9.1
Jonathan's soul was knit with David's soul. Jonathan recognized the anointing in David's to be king and gave him the kingship. Because he loved him as his own soul, Jonathan made a covenant with David - 
- This will cause a knitting of souls and hearts in friendships.

The Covenant Friendship between David and Jonathan lasted after Jonathan’s death and Jonathan’s family continued to receive the love and benefits of the covenant love with crippled Mephibosheth being the recipient