Why Friendships Matters

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So we’re going to start in 1 Samuel, chapter 20, verse 1. It says: Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father that he’s trying to kill me?” Jonathan replied, “Never. You’re not going to die. Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so.” But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this, or he will be grieved.’ Yet, as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there’s only a step between me and death.”

Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.” So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. As for you, please show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself. Why hand me over to your father?”

Jonathan said. “Never. If I had even the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?” So David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” “Come,” said Jonathan, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together. And Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow. If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know?” And Jonathan and David reaffirmed this oath out of his love for him because he loved him as he loved himself.

Amen. Church, let’s pray together. Thank you, Tawny . Let’s pray. God, we thank you for your Word and the power that it has to transform our lives, and God that you communicate to us with a desire Lord, for us to know you and to let your word transform our lives. And so Jesus, we just pray that you’d be with us this morning as we read your Word and we study together, and we ask it all in Christ’s name. Amen.

This morning, we’re going to look at a pretty powerful passage of Scripture. In fact, if I were to just kind of give you a way to think about this in a block, 1 Samuel chapter 18 to about chapter 23 is a very powerful section of Scripture because this section of Scripture becomes a tool that the Lord uses in the life of David to encourage him through some of the most difficult times that he will go through, especially at a young age.

You can imagine if you’re King David having just read 1 Samuel chapter 20, he’s not a king yet, but he’s been anointed to become king, and Saul hates David to the point that he wants to kill David and Saul is the current king in Israel. And when, when the king is against you, you can imagine being young David at this point, that it probably or likely feels like the majority of the kingdom is against him. And with that kind of pressure in his life at a young age, God does something in the life of David to encourage him through that season. And it starts in chapter 18, which we looked at last week and it concludes in chapter 23, which we’ll look at in just a moment. But what God does is he brings into David’s life deep friendship, and through friendship, the Lord uses this as a tool to strengthen David. And his friend is Jonathan.

In fact, when you read this section of Scripture, many people highlight this section of Scripture as some of the most beautiful passages of friendship in all of the Bible. If I gave you a little bit of a timeline to think about this passage, David was born in about 1040 BC. We read recently chapter 17 of 1 Samuel, which is David and the battle of David and Goliath. When David defeats Goliath, most historians estimate he’s between about 15, 16 years old. So this happens about 1025 BC. When you get to chapter 18, we looked at last week, most of historians believe this is about 10 years fast forward between chapter 17 and chapter 18. Chapter 18 starts in a very powerful way. When we saw last week, first four verses, this is the point of Scripture where Jonathan takes off his royal robe and his armor, and he hands it over to David.

And it’s sort of this picture of submission of saying, “Look, I see God working in your life with this anointing to make you king.” And so David takes off his rightful position to become future king as Saul … or excuse me, Jonathan takes off his armor to show his relinquishing of his position as future king, as Saul’s son. And he hands it over to David, which isn’t an easy thing to do. If someone told you that you’re next in line to become a king, how many of us will be jumping in line to say, “You know what? This guy might be better for the job. Let me just hand over everything I’ve got and let him have it”? But that’s what you find in 1 Samuel, chapter 18 is Jonathan, when David’s about 25 years old, takes this position before David and just wants to honor the way God is moving in Israel, and this friendship is kindled between them.

And when we get to chapter 20, which is where we just read, it’s about 1013 BC. And you see this friendship continuing to develop between David and Jonathan from about chapter 21 for of 1 Samuel to the end of the 1 Samuel, is one year that transpires. And when you get to the chapter 20, let me just read a couple of these verses towards the end of this chapter. I know Tawny read for us at the beginning of this story, where David’s concerned for his life and talking to Jonathan about it. They set up this plan where David’s going to go set in this field and hide. And Jonathan is going to go to this banquet and hang out with his father to find out where his father’s heart really is towards David.

And if his father’s heart’s favorable, he’s going to come tell David, and if his father’s hearts against David he’s going to come tell David, “Look, you need to run. You need to hide. My dad’s going to kill you.” And when you get to the end of this chapter, you see Jonathan goes out to this field with what the NASB, which I’m going to read from, the New American Standard, they refer to as this lad. This lad goes with Jonathan and he’s chasing Jonathan’s arrows around. Jonathan’s shooting some arrows, according to a plan he’s got with David, and this lad’s going after these arrows. And finally they tell the lad to go away, or Jonathan tells the lad to go away so that he can talk to David. And David comes out of hiding and they have this conversation in about 1013 BC. But in verse 40, look with me here at this statement. It shows this friendship that’s developed between David and Jonathan.

Then David gave his weapons to his lad and said, “Go, bring them to the city.” When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, but David wept the more. Jonathan said to David, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.'” Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city.

So you see this place of two friends, not together. And really, David’s at a low point, shows us, he’s just falling prostrate on the ground. He’s weeping with his friend. It’s this time of close intimacy. And his concerns are true that Saul wants to kill David, and Jonathan is aware of it. And so they continue their friendship. And by the time you get to 1 Samuel chapter 23, David at this point starts to run for his life. And he’s hiding from Saul. And by the time you get to chapter 23, this is the final year that’s remaining before Jonathan and Saul die in battle. And David will assume his position as king in Israel, or at least the southern tribes. It’ll be seven years later before he unites all of Israel as king. But this starts to lay into the final year of everything that happens between David and Saul and the kingdom in Israel.

And in 1 Samuel chapter 23, this is the last time that David spends with Jonathan before Jonathan dies. And when you say something like that, I mean, you don’t really need to add much more to a text. If you just know, if you see this interaction between them, how Jonathan chapter 18 lays down his position as the next in line as king to David. And in chapter 20, they’re weeping together in this field. When you get to chapter 23, and we talk about the last time these two spend together, I mean, it already perks your attention just to want to see that interaction between such genuine friends.

In verse 15, it says: “Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh, and Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh and encouraged him in God. And thus he said to him, “Do not be afraid because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I’ll be next to you. And Saul my father knows that also.” So that the two of them made a covenant before the Lord, and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house.

And then shortly after this meeting, David … and Jonathan, excuse me, and Saul will go into battle and Saul and Jonathan will both die. And when you think about friendship, I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t feel real masculine on Sunday just talking about friendship. When I think about things that are important to talk about the Body of Christ, this doesn’t want me to put on my battle armor and go fight for Jesus in this world of darkness, right? Like, “Let’s talk about friendship.” But let me just say this, for my sake, if not for yours, when I bring up a fluffy word like friendship, why is this a big deal? I want to talk about why friendship’s important. I want to look at some important aspects to friendship from these texts that we learned from Jonathan and David, just a beautiful section of Scripture on friendship. And then I’m going in the end, just end with why this matters. Like, why should you even care after we talk about all these wonderful things with friendship?

And let me just say it like this. When we say why friendship matters, when we do a message like that, let me just start by giving a heavy statement or a hard-hitting statement, and say it is impossible to follow Jesus without friendship. That’s why it matters. It is impossible to be the Christian that God calls you to be without friendship. I mean, you think from the very beginning of the Garden of Eden, God did not conclude his creation in the garden of Eden until he created friendship. And he created more than that in the most intimate of friendships. But in Genesis chapter two, verse 18, he says it’s not good to be alone, or it’s not good for man to be alone, and he created woman. And in that, you find the most intimate of friendships.

God made us for relationships. Those relationships flourish in friendship. Jesus tells us the greatest two commands are to love God and love others. Mark chapter 12, verses 30 to 31. The fruit of the spirit, the way that the of God works in your life is through relationship. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, all those are words intended to be displayed in relationship. Jesus calls you to reach people, to make disciples. You don’t do that without developing relationship. Friendship is important in Scripture. That’s why I say, as a church, I know some people pretend like, “I’m not a part of a community. I like to worship my God on my own at home.” And to that, I just simply say this, guys, that’s garbage.

God calls us to be in community. You cannot be who Jesus wants you to be without community. Now look, we all know church is not perfect because it’s made up of people and people aren’t perfect. But this is what Jesus says to us, that the church is his bride, his bride, and Jesus knows the church isn’t perfect. That’s why Jesus came and Jesus died for his people. It is his community. It was worth him giving his life for. And so to just diminish the significance of that, I mean, Jesus calls the church to storm down the gates of hell. God created the church for a purpose. Fellowship is important in the church, and fellowship happens in friendship. You can’t downplay that as a group of people pursuing Jesus. It is significant to the Christian life. So when I say the word friendship, in the beginning, I know it sounds like a fluffy thing. But when you think about it, it is central to the identity of God’s people and fulfills a purpose, which God calls us to in this world.

We are intended to interact with people, to love on people, to care for people, to see a difference made in the lives of people. We are people’s holy spirit, but there is no way we can proclaim the message of Jesus in this world, without at least having some sort of acquaintance with people around us. Now, no doubt, not every relationship is healthy. And I’m not saying you need to be best friends with everybody in this world. In fact, passages in Proverbs chapter 18 verse 24 says this, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin.” You can’t be a friend with everybody. No one would ask you to be a friend with everybody. That is an impossibility. I mean, we say here at the church, it is impossible to be friends with everybody in our church. And so what we attempt to do as a church in order to create a platform for healthy living as a community in Christ, is to provide a place for us to meet together and develop deeper friendships. We call those connection groups. You can join one, if you would like to do that.

But look, we’re fooling each other if we think what God calls us to as a spiritual community is to show up on Sunday and get our information and check off our mark in the boxes if we did something for the Lord. Jesus, doesn’t call us to simply show up to church on Sunday and me disseminate information, and now we’re become spiritual, right? We see our spirituality lives in how we manifest the fruit of the spirit in our relationships. A good way to determine whether or not you’re walking with Jesus is to get with people and see if the goodness of Jesus is made known in your life, or if the flesh comes out. I mean, I know in the beginning days of coronavirus, being in solitary confinement with each other, you find real quick in a house 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just how gracious and peaceful and loving you might be.

It’s a good indicator in our lives to see, “Okay, how much am I surrendering to the spirit of God in my relationships? How much do I need to depend more on Jesus in the way that I display his goodness and the lives with people around us?” So I’m not saying, “Look, you have to be best friends with everybody.” That is an impossibility. Some friendships are toxic and they’re better off with stronger boundaries than other friendships. Galatians chapter six, in verse two says this: Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

And there’s a great book that highlights really what that verse is about. It’s written by Henry Cloud. It’s called Boundaries. He talks abut having healthy boundaries in your life. If you struggle with understanding where healthy boundaries are, I would encourage you to pick up that book. They have that book and all sorts of age groups now. I think they have Healthy Boundaries for Kids, Healthy Boundaries for Teens, healthy boundaries for … I don’t know, you name it. But the original book was just called Boundaries by Henry Cloud.

And the premise of this book basically says this, “Look, in life, all of us have a backpack to carry of responsibility. And sometimes in life you have boulders. And if you carry someone else’s backpack, you enable them to really start building a destructive life.” We all need to learn to carry our own backpack. We don’t want to enable people to do things they shouldn’t, but we want to encourage them to do the things God calls them to do. But sometimes the life you have boulders. Unless you have friends come around you and help you carry that boulder together, the weight of that Boulder will crush you.

In Galatians chapter six, that’s what it’s saying. If any other reason, you build healthy community in your life here, here’s one good reason. One day you will need friends. Maybe not right now. Maybe you feel like in a cave, you’re just fine. Maybe this pandemic has been your dream. I don’t know, or whatever label you want to put on COVID-19. Maybe it’s been your dream. You don’t have to associate with anybody if you don’t want to, and you can just hide. But one day you’re going to need somebody. And if you wait until that day, there will be no one around to help you.

But if you invest in friendship, you get to honor God in the way that you help others. God created people in his image, right? And being made in his image, one of the great ways that we can worship the Lord is seen by how we treat one another. And it starts in the church community. How we love one another. It is an act of worship before the Lord, image bearers of Him. Even if people act nasty, even if their behavior is despicable, choosing to honor someone else being made in the image of God, regardless of what they do or don’t do, is an act of worship before your King. Because everyone is made in the image of God. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone. You shouldn’t agree with everyone. Sometimes agreeing with everyone’s the most unloving thing that you can do. But you do want to honor people. The way you love others, 1 John 4:20, is a direct communication of the way you love God. So friendship is important, right? I’m going to jump off that horse for a minute.

When you look at this text of Scripture, then we can ask the question, “What are some key components of life-giving friendship?” I said to you, chapter 18 to chapter 23’s some of the most beautiful passage of friendship communicated in this portion of Scripture. What are some key components that we find from the life of David and Jonathan, as it relates to friendship? Because they have a friendship, maybe some people might even go through this entire life and not experienced. What are some key components to enjoy that kind of friendship? Well, first thing that we see, and it’s happened last week, I read this last week to us in chapter 18, we skipped over it in chapter 20. I’ll give you a verse reference in verse 16, and then chapter 23, verse 18 we read this. In chapter 18 verse three, chapter 20 verse 16, chapter 23, verse 18, Jonathan and David make something in one another’s presence.

And the word that’s used there is covenant. They make a covenant together to honor their relationship. Now, a covenant is a more of a biblical word than we’re used to today. We’re used to contracts more than covenant. So what’s the difference between contract and covenant? Well, let me just tell you. You have some friendships that are more contractual friendships, and I hope you have some friendships that are more covenant friendships. And if I described to you what those means, contractual relationships are like this. I will care about you. As long as you give me what I want. But the moment you don’t give me what I want or what we’ve contracted to have from one another, or the moment I can stop using you for what I want to gain from you, that moment, we’re no longer friends.

So there’s contracts. You set up contracts for people to come and do work on your home. You pay them a certain amount and they come and do this work, and you’re obligated to fulfill your contract as long as they fulfilled their contract. That’s contract. Covenant is more like marital relationship. You make covenants when you’re married, and a covenant gives this idea that I am committing myself to your wellbeing. My attitude is to do what I can to leverage all that God has given me to help you become all that God has called you to be. Not based on contract, it’s based on the individual who wants to sacrifice. Covenant, mutual agreement. Contract, one side just agreeing completely to help someone else, to serve someone else, to love someone else, just as Jesus set up his new covenant for you. Jesus, while you were a sinner, having done nothing to show yourself as lovable before God, God chooses to love you anyway and give His life for you, covenant.

And this is what we see with Jonathan and David giving them themselves for the benefit of one another. In fact, chapter 20, verse 17, the last verse, Tawney read to us said this, “Because he loved him, Jonathan loved him as he loved his own life.” Covenant. Jonathan chapter 18, verse 3, gives his royal robe to David in honor of the Lord and an honor of David and the way that God wanted to move. What we see here is commitment through covenant. And then we see commitment and that they spend meaningful time together. David and Jonathan spend time together. And not just any time. Every time we’re reading David going through difficult times, who is there with David? Jonathan. They’re spending time together and they’re spending meaningful time together. Proverbs 18, verse 24, “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

I read a few studies on this this week, just curious what I could find when it comes to spending time together, how long it might take to develop a friendship. There’s a few studies out there. A lot of them are close to one study I’ll highlight here that I’m going to read to you. This comes out of Kansas University from a professor who did a study in 2018. It was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. You know, one of the top reads we all have in our restrooms, right? The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. But they said this. “It takes between 40 to 60 hours to form a casual friendship, 80 to 100 hours to transitioning to just being friends, and more than 200 hours to become good friends or close friends.” So you think in terms of friendships and how you have friendships and whether or not your friendships feel close or distant, just think about numbers like that. It requires an investment of time to develop this friendship.

This is why we say here at a church, if you’re new to this area, you’ve recently moved to Utah, statistics have said that it takes somewhere between two to three years in living in area before you really feel like you start to put your roots down. But a lot of that’s contingent on how much you invest in relationship. It takes time to nurture relationship, and the longer you’re with people, the deeper those friendships become as you interact with each other. And so stick with it, right? Develop those friendships. Let Jesus bring that sweetness into those relationships as you get to know each other over time.

Now, even Jesus taught us about relationship. In John 15, verse 13, as you think about commitment, he says this, “Greater love has no one than one laid down his life for his friends.” That passage of Scripture, if you read through that section of Scripture in the Gospels in John, chapter 13 to 17, it just breathes intimacy. As Jesus spent three years with his disciples on the last night there in the upper room together, Jesus gives that kind of statement about friendship, to the point you lay down your life for one another. Even Jonathan says to David in 1 Samuel chapter 20, verse 42, he says, “Go in peace.” Or the NASB says, “Go in safety.” It’s the same idea. This departure, Jonathan, when he’s talking to David in chapter 20, verse 42 says, “Look, David, just go in peace from here.”

I mean, think about that circumstance. David’s got a lot of reasons not to be at peace. Saul’s trying to kill him. He’s got gone through some difficult days. And yet Jonathan says to him, “Go in peace.” Now, why would Jonathan say something like that? Well, I think David finds a lot of security in one, his relationship to the Lord. And then that relationship to the Lord just being blessed through his relationship and Jonathan. There’s something about even in hard times, when you have people around you that love you and care about you, and the Lord above who cares for your soul, that you find peace. You find peace in the chaos. And that’s what Jonathan says to his friend out of the commitment that they’ve got together.

Number two, you see this transparency between David and Jonathan. 1 Samuel chapter 20, verse 41. When they’re out in this field together and they finally, after the little lad leaves with the arrows, and David and Jonathan get together, it says David falls down three times prostate and they weep together. And then it says David wept the most. When’s the last time you cried with a friend? Or maybe we should say, who was the last friend you cried with? I’m not promoting you need to just leave here and cry, but there’s something about baring your soul to that degree that just brings people closer together. Because that’s typically the place where you just sort of let down the facade and you want to share what’s on your heart with someone else. And so you strip yourself down to the depth of who you are. You can just bear what’s happening with you with someone else.

And the reason you do that is because you really value the person beside you. You want to hear their advice, their counsel, their direction to you, even if it might not be the direction you’re going in, because you’ve elevated them in your life. And so you’re willing to have this place of vulnerability. And so with David and Jonathan, they’ve got this transparency. And I think the same is true for us in the Lord. And Psalm 34, verse 17, it says, “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.” In a similar way, just as David or Jonathan said to David in 1 Samuel 20, when he says, “Go in peace.” And 1 Samuel chapter 23, verse 17, he says this to David. He says, “Do not fear. Do not fear.”

When Jonathan says this to David, it says in verse 15 and 16, all the reasons really David might fear because Saul’s trying to kill him. And when Jonathan sees David for the first time, the first words he says to David, which is the last time he’s going to see David is, “Look, don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid. There might be other places in the world where you feel pressure, you feel stressed. But when you’re in my presence, don’t fear. This is the place where you can just be yourself. And if you struggle, struggle with me, because the things that I care about are for your wellbeing.” And this is what David says. I mean, that’s the beauty of friendship, isn’t it? You don’t have to put on a facade. You don’t have to be a pretender. You get to just bare where you’re at and where your struggles are with the person that cares about that you.

That’s something I love about the Jesus community. When we come to Christ, the only way we come to Christ honestly is to be open with where we failed and sinned before God. We lay it all bare before Him. We’re not here to impress people with who we are. We want people to be impressed with who He is. I don’t have to pretend. When I struggle, I struggle. And we all know we need Jesus. That’s why we’re here. This isn’t a place of religious superiority where we just try to puff one another up in our arrogance of religious living. That’s not what God’s community is about. God’s community is about emptying ourselves before the Lord, because we all recognize from the moment we trust in Jesus to salvation to the moment we see Him face to face and we’re perfected that we’re all in desperate need of Jesus’ transformation in our lives and we need Him. We need Him.

That attitude is what also allows us to reach this world around us. In the brokenness of the world, even if we don’t like what it does, we can still care about the people that are out there that may disagree with us. Why? Because we’ve been there too, and we know how much we need Jesus. And so I think, more than any other community, we should be able to find that here, this place of vulnerability and praying for one another and lifting one another up and not fighting to impress each other with who we are or where we are, but all recognizing we need Jesus. And the beauty is that humility builds intimacy. Humility builds that friendship.

And third is this key component to life-giving friendship is unity or commonality. It’s not to say we all need to have uniformity. We’re not trying to propagate that at all. But in Christ, we have this unity together, a common vision, a common passion. And what we find in 1 Samuel chapter 23, verse 17, David says this for the … or excuse me, Jonathan says this for the first time out loud. He says, listen, “Thus he said to him, do not be afraid because the hand of Saul, my father, will not find you and you will be king over Israel. And I will be next to you. And Saul my father knows that also.”

In chapter 18, that’s where Jonathan laid down his robe before David. But in chapter 23, verse 17, this is the first time Jonathan verbally says, “No, you’re going to be the next king and my dad knows it as well.” And so the reason Jonathan is so supportive of David one, I think he cares about them, but two, he sees God’s hand moving there and he just wants to support David to get to where God has called him to be. And so they have this commonality together where they’re striving to see David to this position. And so Jonathan says this about King David, or future King David, verbally.

And this is one of the things I love about Jesus’s community as well. Where else will you get a group of people coming from so many different backgrounds, walking in unity together? When you think about Jesus’ first century disciples, if you knew their occupations before Jesus called them, you would say, before Jesus is in the picture, these 12 people, there’s a guy thinking about putting these guys in a room together, and you would look at them and be like, “Good luck. If they all make it out of that room alive, these people are probably going to kill each other.” Peter was a zealot who opposed Roman rule, and Matthew was a tax collector for Rome. They would spit on those people when they would walk down the street, they hated tax collectors so much. And Peter was considered the Jew of the Jews. And Matthew was seen as going with the enemy. And Jesus was like, “You know what we should do. Let’s make these guys hang out for three years.” How were they able to do that?

They lived for a greater calling. Guys, that’s us. There are all sorts of issues in this world that you can make important. But in the end, the one that we want to die for is the glory of God made known in this world. We want people to know Jesus. That’s what unites us. And so in the life of Jonathan and David, you see this unity built over the essentials, which deepened their foundation together in order to live for the purpose for which God called them. So when you think about friendship, there’s all kinds of things I could point through in this passage of Scripture as to what makes it important, but commitment, transparency, this unity or commonality are just some of those things. But here comes the big question. So what? Why should we care? Why does this matter to us, this premiere passage of friendship in Scripture?

Well, let me draw it down to this for us, as it relates to Jesus. Two passages. If you have the notes this morning, there’s two passages I ended with, Matthew 11, verse 19, and Luke chapter 7, verse 34. And these two passages are by religious leaders. Jesus is quoting religious leaders that are remarking in criticism towards Jesus. And they give this statement about Jesus, his indictment against him, that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Did you get that? Friend. Jesus is a friend of sinners. He’s criticized for being close and being real to those who are in need.

Jesus is a friend of sinners like you and me, because Jesus knows how much we need him. And so His desire was to become flesh and die for us because of His great love. Jesus is a friend of sinners. I read a book this week called Sticky Faith and Sticky Faith, you might be interested in this as parents, but Sticky Faith is a book written in concern over young people. And the concern was that when kids get to college age, over half of them leave their faith. Some of them come back a little later in life after they’ve made all the important decisions in life, like kids, career, marriage. But half of them leave the faith. And so the question in this book was, how do you make a young person’s faith sticky? What helps them to develop a genuineness in their own relationship with God?

This is kind of a consensus of what it says. It says more than this, but this is one of the arguments that it made. It said there are a couple of ways that we can treat the Lord that’s unhealthy. One is we can treat Him like this intellectual exercise where we come and we get this dissemination of information and pretend like all we need is to know things and we’ve got all that we need. The other is to treat God like this to-do list, where a life is all about do good, don’t do bad. And so we make following God just this list of, are you doing the right things? Are you not doing the wrong things? Okay, then you’ve done everything that you need to do. That’s a religious way of thinking.

But this is what Sticky Faith said. They found that young people tend, by and large, to take their faith more serious. And I know young people still have to make up their minds in relationship to the Lord. But they found that young people tend to take their faith more serious when they’re influenced by older people who display a friendship with Jesus.

Jesus is more than just something that you know. Following Jesus is just more than something that you do, that your heart really yearns for friendship with Jesus. Jesus is real to you. That’s what makes today so special, right? Jesus is real to us. That Jesus is God. That Jesus really did take on flesh. That Jesus really did die for you. And Jesus really wants to give you life in His presence forever if you would just come to him for the forgiveness of your sins, to be transformed by the grace that He offers through the cross. Jesus wants to walk with you every day, and Jesus wants you to know Him and to be known by Him. Parents, I think sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the influence that you have in your children, not by just hovering over them all the time, but just simply displaying a love for Jesus in your own life.

Jesus is real to you. And it doesn’t just have to be parents, because one of the things I love about living in our state is that it is one of the youngest states in all of our country. And if you want to influence a country, you influence the young people. And if you want to influence the young people, live in light of your love for Jesus as your friend. Look, if you’re here this morning and you’re saying, “Jesus has been that exercise to me and following Jesus has felt more like religion than relationship,” can I just encourage you, can I just encouraged you to consider how much Jesus has already displayed the things that we talked about in the goodness of friendship modeled through Jonathan? That He’s offered that covenant for us? That he’s laid Himself completely out for you? That He’s committed to you, and he builds this unity and relationship with us and Him as we give our lives back to the Lord?

God doesn’t want you to dress yourself up, to make yourself look perfect, to have to make yourself lovable before He embraces you. God already died for you and your sin. That’s how much He loves you. And He also loves you so much He doesn’t want to leave you there. He wants to transform your life if you would surrender yourself and walk with Him. Guys, the same thing’s true for us every day. Our relationship with Jesus starts here, but it also continues in that way. We go through places in our lives where we take our relationship with God more serious at certain points than others. But when we think about how that relationship transpires from more than just beyond me into the lives of other people, how important it is to just allow that friendship to continue to develop and recommit ourselves to the Lord every day.

Escaping Envy’s Destruction

The Wilderness