Ed Note: no audio yet, sorry guys. Will be another week.
Introduction: Friendship is Powerful.
Friendship is an extremely POWERFUL experience God has placed into our world. Scholars have been studying the topic of friendship for years. They studied to understand why it is so powerful for our overall development, health, and survival. What they have learned is the idea of friendships is largely based on a collaborative-shared experience to help protect us from predators, stressors of life, and the like. They have learned that healthy friendships induce certain chemicals in our bodies. The scientist Lydia Denworth says, “Human activities like laughing, singing, dancing, and storytelling—those things we do with friend—trigger… neurotransmitters.” She is talking about the chemicals associated with positive human experiences. The negative side is there are certain relationships that induce chemicals that physically make us feel like we constantly under stress. In those relationships our “fight” or “flight” chemicals become like a constant drip as we deal with those stressful relationships.
The point of this is to see God has designed relationships to be a very powerful experience that affects our whole being—our hearts, minds, and bodies. I think our text today addresses this issue. Jesus is going to give us 3 pieces of wisdom that will help us establish healthy friendships. But these 3 things can be summarized this way…
Theme: Our friendship with Jesus enables our friendships with one another.
1. Detailed Friendship—John 15.14-15.
Before we look at the roots of healthy friendship I think it would be wise for us to look the fruits of healthy friendship. The first fruit of a good godly friendship is voluntary, intimate details—READ John 15.14-15. Last week we talked about having this intimate connection with Jesus, and what He reveals here is if we do have intimate relationship with Him then get details others don’t have. Jesus shares the details on His heart with us, and we share ours with Him.
This principle we see in our relationship with Jesus can be transferred to our earthly relationships. People who we are not close with do not know the most intimate details of our lives. There is a counseling proverb many reiterated to me, “Counseling is in the details.” Well, I think Jesus would say, “Friendship is in the details.” Dr. Mike Brooks says, “The power of friendship frequently comes from the mundane…throughout our long history our social interactions took place ‘in real life.’”
The reason this is so important is because REAL LIFE happens in the details. These details morph into shared values, goals, and kindred spirits. There many times throughout the Bible, throughout your life, and many other experiences where you can observe this truth. When we truly know someone well, and we really value that friendship we begin to share values, goals, dreams, and so much more. Now, let me issue a warning here friends. For the past 10-15 years I have seen with the younger generation of Christians a strong desire to share more intimate details of life. As far as I can tell it is because they want to have more authentic relationships. They realize true friendship is in the details. These are WONDERFUL desires. But the challenge is there are people who will use the details of our lives to harm us. The details we share are meant to be used as tools to help us and not weapons to harm us. I hope this helps you think about how you receive details and makes you careful with those whom you share details with.
2. Flourishing Friendship—John 15.16-17.
The next fruit of good, healthy friendships is flourishing. When you are in a good friendship you will flourish and your friends will flourish—READ John 15.16-17. What we see here in Jesus’ words is there is a real sense of purpose in the friendship we have with Him. He has “APPOINTED” to a certain task. God specifically chose each one of us because He had a detailed assignment for each one of us. Jesus is working hard with the Godhead to make sure we are flourishing in that specific calling. It is always to refreshing to know our purpose and thrive in that purpose.
Once again we see something here in our friendship with Jesus that is helpful in our friendships with each other. Our friends should take joy in seeing us fulfill our purpose. True friends want to see us flourish. This does not mean they will always agree with our definition of success, because sometimes God places certain people in our lives to round out our perspective on life and what it means to do what God has called us to do. Good godly friends help us remember God’s commands are FRIENDLY. They remind us God wants to see us flourish more than anyone.
Also, good, godly friends will help us understand the unique purpose we play in their lives. We cannot treat our friends as if they are all the same. Jesus has given them unique assignments in His kingdom. We have been placed in each other lives to help fulfill God’s purposes. And it is also okay to have friends in our lives who fulfill certain needs or purpose. It’s okay to have that friend who will help you with your car, or taxes, or go to a concert with or etc.
3. Sacrificial Friendship—John 15.12-13.
We have seen two types of fruits that describe good, healthy, godly friendships, but in verses 12-13 I think we see the roots of those good fruits—READ John 15.12-13. We know in any good friendship LOVE must be involved. But Jesus tells us the best friendships will have distinguishing marker—SACRIFICE. Jesus tells there is no greater love available in friendship than a willingness to lay down our lives for our friends. This was not some mere theory by which Jesus lived, but He LIVED this way. The greater love Jesus describes here is what fueled Him going to the Cross. Stop and think about that with me for a moment, because of the Cross Jesus is our friend. We were once His enemies, enemies of God, but because of the Cross we are now His friends. It is this type of sacrificial love that drove Jesus to offer Judas a chance to repent at the Last Supper. It was Jesus sacrificial love that warned Peter of what He was going to do.
Jesus’ standard of love is IMPOSSIBLE without Him. This is why Jesus just told us we need His Spirit in us live this way. We need the same thoughts, desires, goals, dreams as Jesus to be the type of friend He is. The Cross is not just the way Jesus shows us love, but it becomes the definition of how we love others as well. This means the Cross is not some one time thing we dwell on for salvation, but something that governs how we live. When the Spirit of Christ dwells richly in us the Cross governs our relationships. It governs how we think and feel about the world. It governs how we think and feel about our relationships.
When speaking about friendship Dr. Mike Brooks said:
“…we might consider happiness to be the ‘payoff’ for building and maintaining healthy relationships. To receive this payoff, we must focus on our in-person connections…Like a plant, our friendships must be nurtured and cared for so that they can grow healthy…It takes some effort to carve out the time, but the payoff is worth it.”—Mike Brooks, PhD
What he is acknowledging is true friendship requires effort, time, sacrifice. Healthy friendships will not be lopsided. Jesus did not just sacrificed and leave at that. No, Jesus sacrificed and commands us to follow in His example. This is why He said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another AS I have loved you” (John 15.12). Psychologist Robin Dunbar communicates what Jesus is telling us, “If you need a shoulder to cry on you need to prepare that shoulder ahead of time.” Many of us get to that moment when we really need a good friend, but when we have not sown the seeds of sacrifice in our friendships why would we expect anyone to be there? We need to sow the seeds of sacrifice if we ever hope to reap the fruits of friendship. And may we never forget Jesus went to the Cross-without a friend in the world. God Himself had to turn His face away from. Jesus endured that so we would never be without the greatest friend, God Himself. May our friendship with God enable our friendships with one other.