Health Check: Friends
Pastor Rachel Billups | Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12
“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 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. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4: 8-12 NIV).
Maybe it’s the January temps in Ohio, or perhaps it’s the fact I hate being cold. But warmth, energy, light, fire all appeal to me.
You can’t stay spiritually warm by yourself. You need others, you need friends to stay warm, to keep the fire of faith going.
PEOPLE NEED PEOPLE
At the core of who we are is a deep need to live in connection with other humans. The Bible is riddled with famous friendships: Elijah and Elisha, Ruth and Naomi, most folk have heard of David and Jonathan, and, well Jesus was the ultimate friend. Later we discover the apostle Paul and his friendship with Timothy, Barnabas, Priscilla and Aquilla and, many more.
How’s your faith these days?
Moving through the course of history, friendship has been one of our favorite themes in movies and literature—Lord the Rings, Toy Story, Harry Potter, and My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Friendship, Friendship, Friendship, Friendship.
“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. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”(Ecclesiastes 4: 9-11 NIV).
At some point life is going to be challenging. Being surrounded by the right kind of people can make life a little more manageable.
We need people. We need to do life together.
THE POWER OF VULNERABILITY
Vulnerabilty: the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.
In other words, vulnerability is humility that comes with a cost.
The word “exposed” kind of captures it. We don’t want folks to see our weaknesses, so we pretend to have it all together, sharing our high light reels on social media, putting on a mask before we meet for coffee. We don’t want to be exposed—to show people the real us.
Genuine friendships require vulnerability—taking the risk of being exposed, hurt, wounded, for the sake of forging deeper bonds with the people around us.
We’ve got to risk imperfect. Risk showing up as our selfiest selves – our messy, genuine selves.
I’ve always had an interesting relationship with food.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.” -Brené Brown
Your imperfection can be a source of liberation for others.
Your honesty tells me that I am not alone in the struggle.
Jesus was surrounded by religious elitists who prided themselves in mastering perfectionism. But that wasn’t what Jesus was looking for. Jesus was always hanging with the messiest, most honest, often cringeworthy of humans. He didn’t leave them in their mess, but he also didn’t beat them up for it.
Jesus, who hurt when people hurt, wept when people wept, was frustrated by the religious and their binding ways.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 31-32 NIV)
Relationships can be challenging, sometimes awkward and will need time, attention, and work. But–you can do this, and practice makes perfect. Because we were designed for friendship.
JESUS, FRIEND OF SINNERS
If Jesus was patient enough to work with his ragtag group of would-be disciples, don’t you believe that Jesus is patient enough to do the miraculous in and through our most meaningful relationships? We are all a work in progress!
Imagine how much easier and more enjoyable your journey will be if you are living a whole, healthy life.
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6 The Message)
It’s when we are in deep relationship with Jesus that we can be in deep relationship with others.
So, who are your people? Do you have anyone that can speak truth and love into your life?
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is Christ” (Ephesians 4: 14-15 NIV)
We will grow, we will change, we will experience transformation and whole-life health, if we are willing to speak and hear – to give and receive the truth in love.
Something powerful happens when we gather with other people. If you don’t have a group, join one today.
When life hits, when you fall down, it will be those friends who surround you, who speak out the truth of who you are, who assure that, “you can do this!” It will be those same people who feed you when a beloved family member dies, who make sure the check is in the mail, who care for your kid, who show up for the game and remember that difficult Anniversary as you do theirs. When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your year – they’ll be there for you. And together you’ll remind yourselves of who you are and whose you are.
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Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church