What was friendship like for you when you were 10 years old?
It was probably pretty simple.
You hung out, played outside, maybe played video games together.
Some of you ladies got each other BFF necklaces where you each had one part of the best friend heart.
Even for a lot of us as young adults…friendships were really natural.
You hung out every weekend…
Trying hard to stay out of trouble…or not very hard in some of your cases
Some of you went to college, and lived on campus, your whole experience was lived out with friends.
But then, you enter your mid-twenties, maybe you reach 30.
And I know some of you aren’t there yet, so just listen up…
And for a lot of people, friendship gets harder and harder as they get older
If you throw a spouse in the mix, and especially if you start throwing children in the mix, it gets really hard.
Turns out babies take a lot of time…and are super exhausting.
Plus, you can’t just leave them to go hang out with your friends.
And so soon enough, our friendships become more utilitarian than they are just regular-old-friendships.
In America, we might even call them consumer friendships.
(Switch to CONSUMER FRIENDSHIPS slide)
You still have friends, of course, but now, more than ever, it seems like they’re just there in case you need them
Like, you keep in contact with a few friends still (once in a while anyway), but mostly because you never know when you might need a friend.
If you start feeling really down, or are in a rough season of life…
Or maybe you just need help getting something fixed…and they know how to fix it.
Well, then you at least still have a friend to call…
And for many of us as adults, that’s what friendship looks like.
And, not all of that is bad.
But in a culture that is almost completely submerged in consumerism, I’m not sure if we realize that many of us have essentially reduced our friendships to “Consumer friendships”
Our friends have become like Amazon…or Netflix…or a plumber…or a therapist…
…someone we can call on…if WE need something
But that’s it.
I think, sometimes even in the church, we can be guilty of talking about friendship like it’s something we can consume for merely our own benefit.
Maybe you’ve heard me, or another pastor, use the example of…
…if you were to get in a really tight spot in life…
…or say even your car broke down on the side of the road at 11pm, and you needed someone to come pick you up
If you didn’t call a family member, who would you call? Which friend?
And we talk about friendship like that often.
We need friends…to support us…to make OUR life better.
And that’s true.
BUT…if we only talk about that side of it…then all friendship is, is just another thing we consume for our own benefit.
Here’s a twist on the same example.
Think back to your car breaking down at 11pm, and you need a ride.
While you might have a list of 2 or 3 friends you could call in that situation….
…Here’s a question for you: Whose list are YOU on?
Do any of your friends have you on their list?
Or, would they say in their mind, “Nah, I wouldn’t want to wake them, or bother them, they wouldn’t want to come out right now…”
PASSAGE / LOVE OF CHRIST
I fear that too many of us in this room aren’t on anyone’s list.
And it’s because we’ve reduced too many of our friendships to be “consumer friendships”
The only reason we’ve kept them up is for our own benefit.
And often the only reason we call, is if we need something.
Which, if you think about it, is a natural outcome of a society where the very purpose of life is to find your own happiness.
But I want you to see, from the Word of God today…
That, that isn’t the way to happiness
And it most certainly isn’t a model for friendship
We’re going to look at one of the sayings of Jesus.
He’s speaking to his disciples on the very same day that he would later be betrayed.
So this is a Thursday, and he was arrested that night…and crucified the next day.
(John 15:12-13) – NIV
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Very simple passage, but very powerful.
This is counterintuitive to how most of us live, but my guess is that you know these words of Jesus to be true deep down in your soul.
Because when you experience someone sacrificing for you, you experience love in a deeper way then you ever have before.
This is what true friendship looks like.
Look at verse 12.
We are, in our friendships, supposed to love like Jesus loved.
And how did Jesus love?
He laid his life down for His friends.
It should have been us that was arrested that night.
It should have been us up on that cross…being punished for all of our lies, gossip, hatred, lust, and sin.
But He laid down his life…in our place…taking our punishment.
And there is NO greater love.
That’s our model for friendship.
WHAT IT MEANS TO LAY YOUR LIFE DOWN IN FRIENDSHIP
So what does that look like?
Almost no one in this room will ever have to literally give their lives in friendship.
Of course there are people that have given their lives for their friends…in the line of duty…in war.
But for most of us, applying this passage will look different.
Jesus is asking us to die, not literally, but to “die to yourself” as Jesus teaches elsewhere
That is…to die to all of your selfish desires.
And that can look like a lot of different things in friendship.
Maybe you have a friend going through a really hard time right now.
My guess is that many of you, maybe the majority of you in this room, have at least one friend like that.
Maybe they’re going through a divorce
Of the loss of a loved one
Or suffering with depression
As their friend, what will you do about it?
For too many of us the answer is: Nothing. We will do nothing.
And why haven’t we done anything for them?
Because we’ve bathed our minds, not in the Word of God, but in the culture.
And the culture tells us that we need to above all things…look out for #1.
We need to pursue happiness at all costs
But if you go sit with your friend in the midst of their depression…or the loss of their parent…
It isn’t going to make you feel happy.
In fact, you might feel quite drained
But sometimes that’s what friendship is.
It’s often just sitting with the other person in their pain, as Job’s friends did with him in the Bible.
And yeah, it will be hard…and might zap your strength…maybe even your energy or joy.
And that, is laying down your life…for another person.
Sometimes we fail to realize that when the tables are turned, we’re the ones that drain other people.
Like, you don’t ever think you’re hard to be around?
And yet, in your tough seasons, I bet your thankful, for your friends who lay down their life, and their time, and their happiness to be with you.
Jesus’ Golden rule is helpful here
(Luke 6:31) – NIV
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Real friendship isn’t proven by words.
But by actions.
DO to others as you would have them do.
You can say that you have friends, but if you’re never…
asking them to get together
never seeing how they’re doing…
never serving them in their difficult times…
You might not really be their friend.
It just might be another consumer friendship that you tap into when you need something.
Friendship is proven by action.
Friends, lay their lives down.
If we’re really going to move away from consumer friendships, then we need to start putting our friends above ourselves.
Like Jesus put us above himself.
That’s what laying your life down means.
Another great example of this in Scripture is the friendship of David & Jonathan.
Which is well worth studying in the middle of 1 Samuel…as we did back in 2015
Jonathan is King Saul’s son…he’s supposed to be the next King.
And yet when God says that David will be king instead…
Jonathan didn’t say, “No, this is my destiny, I need to pursue my dreams and my happiness. David you’re getting in the way of my story!”
No, Jonathan rejoiced for his friend and helped him against his own father, King Saul.
Jonathan puts his friend’s needs before his own.
That’s the pattern of Biblical friendship.
Putting your friend’s needs before your own.
Is that the pattern of your friendships?
If I went out and interviewed all of your friends, how many of them would say that you “put their needs before your own?”
Where is it that you’re sacrificing for your friends?
CONSUMERISM BREAKS DOWN, SACRIFICIAL LOVE BUILDS UP
I think a lot of us don’t lay our lives down for our friends, and put their needs first, because, as I said, we’re worried that would make our lives worse.
Or harder, or take too much time.
And again, you’ll see that our idol is our own peace…or our own happiness.
But our assumptions our incorrect.
Having a deep friendship is actually one of the great keys to happiness in life.
Now, I’m not saying happiness is your goal, it’s not.
Your aim should be to glorify God.
But if you’re concerned that laying your life down for your friend, and putting their needs first is going to make you less happy…then you don’t understand the blessings of friendship either
Let me explain by showing you “friendship” through the laboratory of a prison camp.
In Ernest Gordon’s true account of life in a World War II Japanese prison camp, Through the Valley of the Kwai, there is a story that illustrates this well.
I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my list to read.
However, I’m familiar with a story from it.
And it’s the story of a Scottish prisoner named Angus McGillivray
Angus was a Scottish prisoner in one of the camps filled with Americans, Australians, and Brits who had helped build the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai.
The camp had become an ugly situation.
A dog-eat-dog mentality had set in.
The prisoners, even though they were all Allies, would literally steal from each other and cheat each other;
Men would sleep on their packs and yet have them stolen from under their heads.
Survival was everything.
The law of the jungle prevailed UNTIL the news of Angus McGillivray’s death spread throughout the camp.
At first, no one could believe big Angus had died.
He was strong, one of those whom they had expected to be the last to die.
Actually, it wasn’t the fact of his death that shocked the men, but the reason he died.
See, the Scottish soldiers took their buddy system very seriously.
They believed that is was literally up to each of them to make sure their buddy survived.
Angus’s buddy, however, was dying, and everyone had given up on him, everyone, of course, but Angus.
Angus had made up his mind that his friend would not die.
Someone had stolen his buddy’s blanket.
So Angus gave him his own, telling his buddy that he had “just come across an extra one.”
Likewise, every mealtime, Angus would get his rations and take them to his friend, stand over him and force him to eat them, again stating that he was able to get “extra food.”
Angus was going to do anything and everything to see that his buddy got what he needed to recover.
But just as Angus’s buddy began to recover, Angus collapsed, slumped over, and died.
The doctors discovered that he had died of starvation complicated by exhaustion.
He had been giving of his own food and shelter.
He had given everything he had—even his very life.
But here’s the thing:
The ramifications of his acts of love and unselfishness had a startling impact on the compound.
This is what Jesus was talking about: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”
So as word circulated of the reason for Angus’ death, the feel of the camp began to change.
Suddenly, men began to focus on their friends, and humanity of living beyond survival, on sacrificing for their fellow man.
They began to pool their talents—one was a violin maker, another an orchestra leader, another a cabinet maker, another a professor.
Soon the camp had an orchestra full of homemade instruments and a church called the “Church Without Walls” that was so powerful, so compelling, that even the Japanese guards attended.
The men began a university, a hospital, and a library system.
The place was transformed; all because one man named Angus gave all he had for his friend.
Now, everything inside a prison camp is intensified…so it’s both easier (and faster) for us to see the natural outcomes that occur based on how people treat their friends.
But you can see these same outcomes in the real world too.
Listen, if the only reason you’re keeping “friends” in your life is to get something from them, or to feel something…
Then the nature of your friendship is merely consumerism.
It’s like those in the camp who saw other people as a means to their own survival.
Each of them saw that the other person had something they could “take” to help them survive.
And it was that consumerist mentality that eventually broke down the entire society of the camp.
Much like I believe our consumer friendships today are ruining the few friendships we have left.
But when the prisoners began to sacrifice for one other and began to put each other’s needs first, it built UP the camp…instead of tearing it down.
And it works the same way in real life.
As the old adage goes, the only way to have a friend is to be one.
If you keep waiting for your friends to call you, help you, counsel you…
Your friendships will break down.
Because you’re only thinking about what you can “take”…what you can consume.
But if you give your life for others (instead of just taking from others)…you’ll find that your friendships will be built up.
YOU CAN DO IT BECAUSE OF CHRIST
And if that feels like a tall order, I assure you that it is…without Christ.
But think about this:
Look at the next two verses in John 15
(John 15:14-15) – NIV
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
You…those of you that are believers & followers of Jesus…are friends of the Son of God.
Not just his servants, but His friends.
He laid down his life…for you…His friend.
And if you have this friend…whom you can talk to at all times.
This friend that you can pour your heart out to.
A friend that says He will never leave you…never let you down…
Then, listen to me, you’re going to have the emotional capacity to lay your needs and your life down for someone else.
It will allow you to live out what we often call the PLATINUM RULE
Which is to treat others…like Jesus treated you.
He laid down his life for you…so you lay down your needs & wants to serve others.
Understanding His friendship changes everything.
Too often we say (or feel) things like:
“Listen, my friend is going through a rough time right now, and I’m not sure they even deserve my time…they kind of made a mess of their life…”
But if you understand the Gospel, you’ll remember, “And I made a mess of my life, and yet Jesus still gave his life for me”
And if you understand what a friend you have in Jesus, your cup is going to be full…and you’re going to be able to pour out to others.
But if you don’t understand that, you’re going to feel dry, and you’ll be the one complaining about how no one is a good friend to you.
You can’t be a great friend until you first understand what a great friend you already have in Jesus.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN