We may not know it, but we're in a friendship crisis in America. Who's got your back?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation.
One of my favorite movies I saw as a kid was Aladdin. What a movie! J
Rift raft. Street Rat. I don’t buy that. This is Aladdin, and he’s going to get the girl and save the kingdom.
One of the things I remember about going to see Aladdin at the Cambridge Movie theater was how much my parents enjoyed it.
I just remember my dad doubling over at some parts.
It’s one of the first movies I can remember, where they started to market it: The kids will love it, but the parents will love it more!
And this morning, as we enter week 2 of the “Relationship Maze,” I want to talk to you about something that at first you’re going to think…this is for kids.
It’s a movie for kids!
But I submit to you, stick with me, and I want to show you…that this thing…is for adults. Not kids.
When we do a series like “The Relationship Maze,” often what people think of first is dating relationships. Maybe you think of your “relationship with your spouse.”
But there’s one type of relationship that we ALL have: And that’s the relationship of friendship.
And today…I want to talk about: Having Godly friendships.
Now, let me go back to what I said 30 seconds ago because some of you just went like this in your heads: “Oh boy. CHeesey. This is like a pre-school topic.” “HEY KIDS! Today we’re talking about friendship. Do YOU have any friends?”
But here’s the problem. I think we’ve got this backwards.
See, the vast, vast majority of kids…are way better at friendship than adults are.
It comes easy for them. They walk into their kindergarten classroom, and they just make friends.
“You want to be my friend?” “Sure.” “Deal.”
In their neighborhoods, they just make friends.
Even all the way up to college…college students often do a better job of living out Christian community and friendship than any other age adult.
But for adults…friendship…often gets more difficult with age.
On the one hand it doesn’t. You mature. You learn how to “navigate friendship” better than kids.
When I was 8, if my friends made me mad, I always said, “Well, fine, I’m leaving!” Then I would fake leave and come back J
But you learn “Friendship Skills” as you mature.
Now at 30, I’m not “fake leaving” when my friends say something I don’t like anymore.
So, friendship isn’t necessarily more difficult for adults because we don’t know how to do it…it’s because…well…honestly…most of us don’t really have that many friends.
Let alone good Godly friends to challenge and encourage us.
And I’m not sure if we’ve realized it yet, but America is in a friendship crisis and we need a FRIENDSHIP FIX.
And the way I see it, the reason for the crisis is two-fold.
For one…friendship gets harder as you get older.
I’ve experienced this in my own life.
When you’re in college, or just out of high school, you still have plenty of friends.
But then…people get married…you start having kids…your kids starting playing soccer and on and on…
And pretty soon, adults say, “ I barely can make it to my own kid’s soccer game, let alone carve out time to hang out with the guys on a Friday night.”
And friendship…kind of just takes a backseat in our adult lives.
And in our American society, we’ve become okay w/ that.
We’ve somehow reasoned, “Well, friendship, can’t be that important, can it?”
I think the second reason for our friendship crisis…is that hardly anyone in America is calling it a friendship crisis yet.
And how can you fix a crisis when no one thinks you’re in a crisis?
See…many of us have don’t have that many true friends left…but we don’t know it.
Let me ask you: How often do you hang out with another adult who isn’t someone you’re dating or someone you’re married to?
If you really just needed someone to talk to and come over this afternoon, how many people could you call?
For most of us…that list is really, really, short. If not non-existent.
But still…we don’t call it a crisis yet…because we have the ILLUSION of friendship.
How can you say I have a friendship issue when I have 775 friends on Facebook?
How can you say I have a friendship issue when my old college friend often sends me texts?
But who is really left in your life? Honestly. If everything hits the fan in your life…who will be there? Who will be there in 15 minutes?
DAVID & JONATHAN: LOVE
But maybe you’re thinking… What’s the point? I’m not 12 anymore. I don’t need a BFF with matching Best Friend necklaces. I’m an adult.
Well…one of the things the Bible teaches us is that a good Godly friendship is one of the most important RELATIONSHIPS we can have in the Relationship maze
One of the best places to see this in the Bible is in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. It includes the story of two great friends: David & Jonathan.
A little background information for you:
Towards the beginning of 1 Samuel, the prophet Samuel is told to choose a man named Saul to be the first King of Israel.
However, as time goes on, Saul does not prove himself worthy of being King, so God has the prophet Samuel anoint a young boy named David, as the future king instead of Saul.
Then, oddly enough, as David gets older, his best friend becomes a guy named Jonathan, who ironically, is the son of the current king Saul.
So, think about that. Jonathan is best friend with the guy who’s been chosen to take his dad’s place as king. Awkward.
We’re going to look at a few parts of their story today, and pull out some principles of friendship.
If you want to follow along, PAGE 228, or YouVersion.
Here’s the first part of the story:
(1 Samuel 18:1-3) – NIV
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
So, we see that David and Jonathan start this really close friendship.
They even make a covenant with each other (an agreement), which we’ll see later, is about looking out for each other, and protecting each other.
The Scripture says that Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.
Another way, I know that we’re in a friendship crisis, is what people do with this passage sometimes.
People say…well, can Jonathan really love another man like he loved himself?
Or course he can. It’s like we have no concept what deep friendship is anymore.
If I really care for my guy friends, I’m going to, yes, love them, like I love myself.
This is no different than the 2nd Greatest Commandment Jesus gives:
( Mark 12:31) – NIV
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
I think this is the first principle of friendship: Loving the other person like you love yourself. It’s serving them. Friendship is the opposite of selfishness.
And David and Jonathan set the standard of what true friendship is.
And don’t we want that in our lives?
To have just a chorus of people around you that are looking out for you?
I love how David’s son, Solomon, puts it in Ecclesiastes:
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) – NIV
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. 10 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.
It’s difficult to live this life without people to help pick us up.
We don’t sugarcoat things here at Renovation. Life is hard. We NEED people around us.
Friendship is at such a crisis level in this country, that most people, if they really want to talk about their problems, have to PAY MONEY…and go to a counselor
And I’m not in any way knocking professional counseling…I refer people there often.
But…so many of our woes can be taken on and cared for by our friends. If we have them.
And maybe you’re thinking…But I don’t have anyone like that.
So many of us don’t nowadays.
But there is hope.
DAVID & JONATHAN: LOYALTY
We see a lot more friendship qualities exuded in David & Jonathan. Check out the next chapter of 1 Samuel
(1 Samuel 19:1-7) – NIV
Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. (explain) But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David2 and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. 3 I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.” 4 Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. 5 He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?” 6 Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.” 7 So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.
The second principle I really see in their story is LOYALTY.
Jonathan is EXTREMELY loyal to his best friend David, even if it means having to sneak around and hide him from his own father.
He goes to great lengths for his friend, and has to humbly approach the KING, of all ppl, and beg for David’s life.
A true friend…is a loyal friend…in ALL circumstances.
(Proverbs 17:17) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
True friendship…true community…is steeped in loyalty.
And this is hard for us as Americans. Things like loyalty and commitment aren’t exactly our fortes.
In fact, we’ve become much more infamous for running away when things get tough.
But friendship…true friendship…is a loyal friendship. Even, if it’s going to cause some adversity in our own lives.
And I think the modern church in America has all but given up on this kind of friendship existing between our people….which is really sad to me.
Many churches have given up on community and just do Sunday mornings while others have gone w/ the hot new trend to just offer 10-week community groups that get switched up every 10 weeks.
That way groups don’t have enough time for people to butt heads. And they can keep putting ppl in new groups.
But can you imagine the early church in the Bible saying, “All right everyone, 10 weeks are up, everyone needs to go to a new house church!”
But that’s not Biblical friendship. It’s not loyalty. It’s not commitment.
Friendship, loyalty, commitment says, “We’re going to work through tough times together…if my dad wants to kill you…we’ll work through that!” J
That’s why we keep our groups together here. Sure, people can switch if they want. But almost everyone stays together.
Because Friendship develops over time, and the foundation of friendship must be a sense of loyalty and long-term commitment.
DO you have that? Are there people looking out for you no matter what?
DAVID & JONATHAN: LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER
In Chapter 20 of 1 Samuel, we see another friendship characteristic of David & Jonathan. They look out for each other at all costs.
King Saul once again goes back on his word, and decides he’s going to kill David again. Because he doesn’t want to give up his throne.
Jonathan goes to great lengths to find out if this is true. He devises an elaborate plan to protect David, comes up with an alibi, and when he finds out the truth (that Saul does want to kill his best friend), Saul even throws a spear at his own son, Jonathan
After that Jonathan finds David, warns him, and tells him to run for his life.
Now, David couldn’t do all of this himself. He couldn’t get close to Saul to find out if it was true. He couldn’t figure out if he should run or stay.
But Jonathan does that for him.
See a true friend, has your back.
Who has your back? Who’s looking out for you? Who would step up for you? Defend you? Warn you?
One of the things I’m struck by when I’ve traveled to places like Haiti and Mexico for missions…is how much you see adults hanging out together at night. It’s super common.
They’re at each other’s houses…at the park..out to dinner.
But here, in America, we live in a garage up, garage down society where we try and make it on our own.
But when life gets hard…I guarantee you…despite all of our money…the people in the 3rd world are better off.
Because they’ve got the friends to support them.
They put the effort into friendship, and it pays off!
DAVID & JONATHAN: SACRIFICE
Perhaps the greatest mark of a friend is their willingness to sacrifice for you
Jesus himself tell us this:
(John 15:13) – NIV
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
This to me is the most remarkable thing about David & Jonathan.
Look at the last known interaction between the two friends
(1 Samuel 23:15-18) – NIV
While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.
We’ve seen hints of this before, but now it’s explicit.
Jonathan, who is the heir to the throne,…King Saul is his father. Jonathan is meant to be the next King!
But Jonathan, believes in his best friend David so much, and the call God has on David’s life, that he’s telling David, “NO, I will sacrifice for you. YOU will be king! I will be your second in command.”
Wow. That’s friendship.
What if you had someone that was looking out for you like that. That was willing to do whatever it takes to see you live out God’s call in your life??
Jonathan is going to come under incredible pressure to revoke this covenant of friendship with David…so he could be King.
But he’s true to his word to his friend. And for His God.
At the end of chapter 20, Jonathan does ask of David though that as a mark of their friendship, that there always be kindness between their descendants.
And even after Jonathan’s death in battle, when David is eventually king, he shows incredible kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, and couldn’t walk
Even though, in those days, when a new king from a new family took the throne, standard operating procedure was to completely wipe out the family of your predecessor…
David does no such thing.
He shows kindness to the son of Jonathan, and in fact, lets him eat at the King’s table all the days of his life.
Who’s sacrificing for you? Who’s looking out for you? Who’s staying loyal to you?
And we all long for this. Friends. To have our back. To stay loyal. People we can just be real with…and trust.
But we’re in a friendship crisis in America. And most of us…don’t have it
But we want it. And we need it. We were created to need it.
And much of the country is looking for it…somewhere to fill that hole…
But let me tell you…the answer…the fix…is not at the bar…not at another random party you won’t remember…it’s not through making friends on the internet…it’s not in getting a work spouse…it’s not in an affair…it’s not in moving somewhere else to find people who are actually nice!
The answer…the fix…it’s right here.
The friendship fix: It’s the church!
I believe this is one of the greatest things Christianity can offer our culture.
It’s one thing that we TOTALLY have that the world does not.
Friendship. Incredible community. People to love & care for you. Bring you meals when you’re sick. Throw a shower when you get married. Come over when you’re worried.
The church has the “FIX” to the crisis.
It’s one place you can find true friendship…in abundance!
At Renovation, we are crazy about community and Godly friendships being formed because we think it’s crucial to spiritual growth.
And if this is where you’re at…you feel lost in this part of the relationship maze… We want to help you.
The bedrock ministry of our church is our house groups. It’s such a foundation of our church that we’ve always averaged over 80% of our adults participating.
IN short summary, it is this: 20-30 people get together in a house every week. (We have multiple houses).
They enjoy social time, get to know each other, watch a DVD teaching that I do based on our Sunday morn topic, and we break up into small groups for the 2nd half of the night
We do groups of 20-30 because it’s like…if you go to a group of 6-8. You might like the people…or it could be super awkward.
But 20-30 is like going to a BBQ of 20-30 ppl. You know by the end of the night, you’re going to find some ppl you connect w/.
I think our society, in our friendship crisis, is starving for something like this.
Most of us are starving for community. We’re lucky to hang out with friends three times a year.
We’re offering you a community every single week.
You were built for this! Created for this.
And it’s not just a get together. It’s a community of Godly people that can encourage and help you spiritually.
Whether you’ve known God for forever, or you’re just starting to check this thing out.
Some of you are maybe even thinking this morning…You know what…I’m doing all right with God…and I’ve got some friends…so I don’t think it’s for me.
But let me ask you something: Why is it, in our culture, that it’s like our only litmus test for whether we should do something or not, is whether it benefits US?
What about the other people who need you? Who could benefit from you? What about all of the new believers here? Who could learn from you? Be encouraged by you?
WE need you TOO! It’s not JUST about you needing us.
I don’t want you to just ask the question this morning of “How can I find friends who can love me, be loyal, and sacrifice for me” like David & Jonathan
I want you to ask yourself, “How can I be that friend!”
In Acts chapter 2, the Bible describes the model of the early church. Meeting together often in homes for fellowship, teaching, and growing in God.
This is how they grew. Not just by showing up once a week to hear Peter talk for 25 minutes.
For the church in the Bible…their homes…were their churches.
If you’re brand new here over the last few weeks or so. Maybe this is just something you’re considering…and that’s okay.
If you’re ready now. Jump in. If you’re not quite sure. You can always jump in later.
But if you’ve been going here for a while now, and you haven’t made the leap yet… I want to ask you an incredibly serious question: Are you okay with this being enough? Are you okay with being a face in the crowd?
At some point in your Christian walk, you’ve got to take the step forward into real Christian community. Where people know you, can challenge you, know your life, and encourage you.
It’s what God wants for you. He wants to GROW you!
I’m going to say something most pastors don’t say.
This…right here, right now…in this gym, isn’t real Christian community.
Last week, there were 260some people here. You can’t know everyone. Nor is the person you shake hands w/ in the hallway really going to help you with your walk w/ God.
And I can’t pastor everyone.
There are now over 300 people that call Renovation home, and if you give me one day off a week, I can’t even meet w/ every once a year.
This…what we’re doing right here…is the equivalent of when the Christians in Acts all gathered in the thousands to hear Peter and John teach and worship together.
SUPER IMPORTANT…But it wasn’t their CHURCH. IT was just for spiritual enrichment and growth.
Their CHURCH. Their body. Where they really grew and took off. Was in homes.
And if you’re new…when you know Renovation is for you, and you’re ready…you’re ready.
But if you’ve been here a while. Move forward in your walk with Christ today. Be faithful to God’s word. Be a part of community.
I know it can be a scary thing. It can feel like a sacrifice. It takes time.
But the fruits of it…FAR…FAR outweigh any sacrifice.
And for those of you in house groups already…My bold challenge to you this year is to take your friendships up a notch.
Getting together every week in a small group and examining God’s word together is an amazing start.
But this year. Resolve to take it further.
Take your fellowship up a notch. Invite your small group or their spouses too, if they’re married, over to your house for dinner.
Take your accountability up. There’s probably some things you don’t even talk about in a group of 6.
Maybe start accountability with a friend in your group.
Let me just ask you: What is God saying to you in your heart right now? Wherever you are on the spectrum?
Is to take a first step forward into an AMAZING community this year?
Is it to take a step forward into diving even deeper into some of your existing house group friendships? So you can get to the friendship level of David & Jonathan…where they always have your back?
And if God…the God of heaven and earth…is whispering something on your heart…TRUST HIM. Move forward. He will lead you to good.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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