Whenever I hear some truth that sounds a little too lofty or a little too “out there” in relation to my own experience, I need an example from real life.
If I can ever get the book section of this blog developed, you will see that the books I read are usually like that. “Here is the lofty truth and this is what it looks like.” For the most part, I am very concrete…and I KNOW I’m not alone! I guess a lot of people are like that because Jesus came to earth to show us what God looks like in real life. He came for an even more important reason than that…to pay the eternal penalty for our sin.
In this series that is developing on friendship, before we get too lofty, I want to spend some time on a great model. Of course, He is more than that, but He is that. I’ll be giving you some resources for finding help on this, but I used up my words by the end of draft one.
WHO IS OUR MODEL?
The passage that God has made into a “life verse” for me in this regard has been Philippians 2:4-8. (When I was younger, I didn’t have a clue which verse to choose for life!)
4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of aservant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
NOT GRIPPING TIGHTLY* TO MY RIGHTS, BUT SERVING…EVEN IF THEY HAVE TO DIE!
How is that for a model of friendship…for relationships in general? Loosen the grip I have on my rights and serve to the point of “my rights” dying! Now there is a picture of an alternative lifestyle!
Can you imagine how that would revolutionize marriages? parent-child? neighbor-to-neighbor? brother-sister (both blood and church)?
But of course, the most important issue is not about “them”, it is about “my” marriage, neighbor, church and blood family relationships…not because they are the most important, but because they are the only ones where I can change something…my attitude/response.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8)
(Do you notice the 4-8 commonalities? It might help you remember where to find these verses. Read them in their broader context and it will add even more richness to your understanding of them and how they apply to all of your relationships.)
CHRIST DOES MORE THAN MODEL, HE EMPOWERS
SO, back to our model. At this point, when I find that Christ and His serving of others (in such a scandalous and shockingly simple way), is my model, I am inclined to give up. I can’t live a perfect life like He did! I definitely can’t serve with that attitude! I can’t do it. I absolutely must have Christ. I can’t live without Him.
However, I do have all of the resources at my disposal as His child to live a godly life! (II Peter 1:3-4) As a believer, I have the Holy Spirit living in me to give me the “want to” when it comes to obeying God and wanting to go His way. That is huge! Naturally, I do not have that.
DO YOU KNOW THE REAL JESUS OF THE BIBLE?
Reading the gospels, particularly the first three, is very helpful. (John is more interpretive than the other three.) Mark is great for fast moving, briefly stated snapshots of Jesus’ life. Although written by John Mark, it is from the perspective of Peter.
A book on the gospels that I found to be very helpful (and it is NOT a commentary) is Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love like Jesus. It is by Paul E. Miller. He wrote the book for people who are unfamiliar with the language of Churchese. (A language he is very familiar with having grown up in the home of a seminary professor!) He left all of it out…or defined terms. He designed the book to be able to be read by someone who has never heard much about Jesus…definitely not aware of churchese! They don’t need to learn it, they need to get to know Jesus!
ARE YOUR REACTIONS TO JESUS/THE CHURCH, TO HURTFUL EVENTS IN THE PAST, TO BLIND/IGNORANT PEOPLE OR TO THE REAL JESUS?
Another group of people who would find the book helpful are the jaded christians. You know, those who have heard about Jesus all their lives and been in the church and are at various levels of cynical regarding Him and His bride, the church? That might even be you!
You might even learn that the Jesus you thought you knew, isn’t the One of the Bible. At least, you will have a different view of Jesus and who He is and what He was like on earth that will open your eyes to things you never noticed about Him in the gospels before.
YOU NEED TO FIND THE ANSWERS FOR YOURSELF! ASK GOD TO GUIDE YOU…HE WILL!
So, rather than write more about what the model of friendship looks like in Jesus, I have ended up giving you resources to find them for yourself. What I have given you up to now has been based on these passages. What have you found? Please share it with us in the Comments.
*my resident theologian tells me that this is more along the lines of the meaning here rather than trying grab something that doesn’t belong to me. It is holding tightly to something I am entitled to.
As Americans, we are extremely strong in this area! We are very big on things like “fairness”, personal”rights”, etc. It gets in the way of relationships all the time!
**Pardon the looks of my blog. I’m working on it but have had some plug-in clashes and other problems. I decided not to let it interfere with writing! It is taking up gobs of time to fix:( Please bear with me.