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Friends…

11 Nov

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Luke 5:17-26 –

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”

So much to think about in this passage, but for me the key is the FAITHFUL FRIENDS.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

Sometimes when life leaves us paralyzed — paralyzed with fear, paralyzed with shame, guilt, failure… — we need the faith of our friends to carry us to Jesus.  Sometimes we can’t do it alone.  Sometimes we don’t even want it.  But we can be carried… we need to be carried… by faithful friends.

If ever there was a doubt in your mind about the centrality of COMMUNITY in the Christian faith, let this passage assure you: WE ARE CREATED FOR COMMUNITY.  And we are SAVED IN COMMUNITY, FOR COMMUNITY, and sometimes even BY COMMUNITY (through Jesus, of course).

Six months ago, when life exploded — or imploded — I was paralyzed. And if it had not been for faithful friends picking me up and carrying me to Jesus, I would have been lost.  Really.  Seriously.  Like done.  Gone.  

But what is interesting is that you don’t always know WHO YOUR FAITHFUL FRIENDS ARE.

People I thought were faithful friends weren’t.  Others that I didn’t even know were friends turned out to be most faithful of all.

To be honest, most of my “friends” ran… abandoned… spit upon…

 

Not only were they not carrying me, they were kicking me… or ignoring me… and wondering why Jesus should be bothered with me.  At best, I was an interruption that was getting in the way of listening to Jesus’ teaching; at worst… well, not worth repeating some of the things that were said.

But there were faithful friends too.

People like J.R. and Di and Mia and Angel and ZZ… who didn’t really know me, but opened their home and lives to me.

People like Bart who ordered me to get in the car and drive to Cincinnati — an almost literal carrying of me to Jesus.

People like Tom and Nancy… Vince… Jen… Sarah… Josh… Steve… Susan…

And there were others.  People who dropped what they were doing to carry me.  People who cared more about me than my title or position or failure or sin.  People who knew that they too were broken and needed Jesus… just fellow journey mates doing what friends do.

And I think that is the lesson here… THAT IS WHAT FRIENDS DO.

Friends carry you to Jesus when you can’t get there yourself.

Friends never abandon or accuse or attack.

Friends rally when it is toughest, stand up when it is hardest.

Friends become the grace of Jesus in the flesh.

Friends can’t be disuaded and don’t need to be convinced.

They are there… and that is what makes them FAITHFUL FRIENDS.

Erwin McManus tells about going on a family vacation in Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Erwin’s 10-year-old son, Aaron, wanted to go down to the beach. So Erwin and Aaron walked from their beachside hotel down four or five steps right onto the beach.

Then Erwin spotted a man. The man had somehow managed to find his way to the water, and now he had begun to find his way back. He was a double amputee who had worked his way, with the use of specialized crutches, through the sandy beach.

Just as Erwin noticed him, one crutch slipped, and he fell hard to the sand. Undaunted, he pulled himself back up and began again, only to fall a second time. None of the other vacationers on the beach seemed to notice him. Erwin saw him to his right and chose to turn to his left.

Erwin gently placed his arm on Aaron’s shoulder, turned him away, and began talking to him to distract him from the scene below. They walked a few feet. Then Aaron stopped him and said, “I have to go help that man.”

Erwin stood there, paralyzed in his hypocrisy, and said, “Then go help him.” He watched Aaron run across the beach and, without explanation, begin to pick the man up. He couldn’t do it. The crowd on the beach outside the hotel turned and saw Aaron’s futile effort to help the man back to the hotel deck. The crowd moved toward Aaron and the man.

Someone picked up the crutches while others reached down and picked up the man. After the group helped the man return to the hotel deck, Aaron came running back to Erwin. With tears in his eyes, Aaron said, “I couldn’t help him. I wasn’t strong enough.” Erwin explained to Aaron that no one would have helped the man if he had not taken the initiative. It was because of him that the others came to aid the man.

Aaron understood what FAITHFUL FRIENDS DO.  It is always easier to turn to the left, then to go to the right.  

Today I am more thankful than you can know for those faithful friends for turned to the right, instead of fleeing to the left.  I literally was paralyzed and didn’t know what to do or where to go.  And they were there for me.  

I honestly believe that if they hadn’t been there, I’d still be in that place — paralyzed, stuck, rotting away, hopeless.

Today I can walk again.  I still have a ways to go on this journey, but I am alive and living and pursuing Jesus and life!  

But withou
t FAITHFUL FRIENDS, I wouldn’t be.

So give thanks for your FAITHFUL FRIENDS.  And as importantly, BE A FAITHFUL FRIEND.  It is always easier to turn to the left… walk away… ignore… or even get self-righteous.  

But that is never what FAITHFUL FRIENDS do.

So thanks friends… praying that God blesses you more than you could ever ask or imagine!

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Posted by on November 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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