How to be a friend and the results of being one, part 1
Over the next few days I want to explore these verses in John 15 v9-17 especially focusing on friendship and love. Hopefully, each day there will be an action and a result to consider.
December 2010 was a particularly bad winter, icy cold and snow continually falling meant that as a Pastor I had to make those difficult decisions to close the Church building down from services. We were in lockdown. Apart from a group who rented the building. They were the SAS of all groups. The Alcoholics Anonymous group met 3 times a week in our building and had never dropped a week and it continued throughout that lockdown. What an extraordinary organisation the AA are?! It was in June 1935, at the heart of the Great Depression, Bill Wilson, a failed stockbroker founded the organisation after meeting God in a hospital room. Since then much has been discovered in terms of psychology, neurology and human behaviour and yet contemporary medicine has arguably not managed to come up with a better alternative than the AA’s 12 steps which are centred on a small group of like-minded friends who provide support, honesty, and accountability.
On the night of Jesus’ death he speaks to his disciples about the most important command. It was his command to them that he had spoken of many times in the journey. That is of course, love and friendship.
In this lockdown season it seems that everything is coming to the surface. The good and the bad side of humanity. There are continually amazing stories of friendship, community and love. But there are also the despicable things that go on because for some they choose to never change even when the opportunity is given to do so. I really hope that post-lockdown when our churches gather back into their buildings that a new chapter of love and friendship will have noticeably already have begun.
How can I be a friend who loves?
Action: Find the common ground.
30 years before Bill Wilson saw the light, in 1905, a Boston physician named Joseph Pratt organized weekly meetings for patients with tuberculosis. He was simply trying to teach them better health habits; surprisingly, he discovered that the groups also excelled at providing emotional support. He concluded that by sharing about their “common disease” they developed a “common bond.”
V9-11 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
The common ground for the Church is the love found in God.
Jesus said in v11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Some people say you can have joy without being happy, but it usually those who are not smiling. Some people say their joy is deep down inside, but what good is a light that doesn’t shine?
Jesus spoke those words shortly before his dark Gethsemane and then accusation, slander and torture of Calvary. He spoke of ‘my joy’. He has joy remaining with Him at the time of his greatest trial and testing and Jesus wants you, whatever your trial or circumstance to have His joy in your life. It is not temporary, it is permanent based on His relationship with you. The greatest sign of God’s presence is joy and it comes through your love for others.
Nothing satisfies, renews and re-energises like the joy of the Lord!
How can we fight the battles of the Lord if we are downbeat?
How can we be a light to the world if we do not shine?
How can we set the world on fire if we are cold and dry?
We need joy in our hearts.
We cannot have a relationship with God without Him giving us joy. In Psalm 16 we are told that in Gods presence there is fullness of joy.
A joyless life is an un-revived life.
Am I heartless to talk about joy when the world suffers? No, I have found the church with the most joy is the church that is suffering. I have wept with Christians in many despicable places of the world only to see their smile return because God is with them. I always come away being moved by their joy more than their suffering. Joy conquers suffering.
We have a resurrection that conquers death and we have a joy in God that conquers the darkness of this world. And it all is birthed from loving others.