Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634

May 2015

FOJ (Friends of Jesus)

So, how many friends do you have? According to my Facebook account, I have at least 426 friends. But I have to confess most of my Facebook "friends" aren't really my real friends but merely acquaintances. In fact, some of my FB friends, I've never even met before in person! But as a line from the Pulitzer Prize play Harvey puts it, "You can never have enough friends!"

One of the keys to living a successful life on this earth is to by having the right friends in life. And 'what better friend can one have than Jesus Christ Himself, God Himself in the flesh, the Almighty, One Himself, the Creator and Sustainer of all things?

But that's exactly the privilege we've been given as forgiven children of God. As Jesus says in John 15:5, "I no longer call you servants .... instead I have called you friends!" Isn't that awesome? That we can be friends with Jesus?

One of my "real friends" in life is a former high school classmate of mine by the name of Jim Cooper. But, Jim and I didn't start out as friends when we first met each other my freshman year in high school. For Jim was the epitome of a nerd, and I considered myself the epitome of "c:ool" (believe it or not, I used to be cool or at least I thought I was cool).

I fancied myself to be a basketball star, hung around with the other "cool" people in school, and had little time in my life for a nerdy classmate like Jim who was into all the stuff that nerds tend to like such as Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, playing video games, reading comic books, etc. and shared no interest in my passion for basketball. But the problem was Jim was in 4 out of my 6 classes! He would follow me around all day long like a lost puppy dog and would even follow me after school to my house, even though he lived a good distance from my house. To put it bluntly, Jim got on my last nerves!

And yet over time, as I got to know Jim better, even though he was into a lot of stuff that I considered pretty nerdy, he turned out to one of the loyalist friends in my life. And Jim remains one of my best friends to this day. As an aside, Jim ended up being not so nerdy in his adult years. He received an appointment to go to the Air Force Academy, currently works for the US Pentagon, eventually became a marathon runner, and has a beautiful wife and two lovely children.

But, in his more "nerdy" days in high school, somehow Jim was determined to be my friend in spite of my initial attempts to rebuff him. And so Jesus in his stubborn love for us is determined to be our friend. As He actively pursues us, even when are less than friendly towards him. Even when we have been more friendly with the world and the things. of the world than with Him and His righteousness. Even when we have considered following the narrow path of God's will to be too nerdy for our lifestyle. He loves us at all times. His love is closer than that of a brother. The very fact that you're reading of His love for you in this article is evidence of His stubborn love for you and His dogged determination for you be His friend!.

I find it interesting that when Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, Matthew 26:50 tells us that Jesus addressed him as friend, saying, "Friend, do what you came for". For it was not Jesus who had been disloyal to Judas, but it was Judas who had chosen to become His enemy. Jesus longed to be friends with Judas, just as he longs to be friends with all people. About the only qualification to be His friend is that you would admit you are a sinner in need of His forgiveness.

The people of Jesus' time were astounded that Jesus had chosen to be a "friend of tax collectors and sinners". And so Jesus wants to be your best friend as well, in spite of your sins. Even though you don't deserve to have such a loyal, loving friend.

As he says in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" Because Jesus willingly gave up His life for your sins, you can enjoy the mind­boggling privilege of being His Friend with all the benefits that come with being in such a friendship.

And as his friends, John 15:15 tells us that He has revealed to us His plan of salvation, ". .. But I've called you friends because I've told you everything I heard from My Father. In order that we might bear fruit that doesn't pass away and to have the Father give you anything you ask Him in His name (John 15:16).

As mentioned earlier, I have a Facebook account, and occasionally I will come across someone inviting me to be their friend. All I have to do is accept their invitation click my mouse, and that person will instantly become my "friend" and I will receive all the benefits that come along with them being one of my Facebook friends. I'll get to sel;,) his or her profile, read their thoughts on various things, view their pictures, read the results of the latest Facebok survey they took, see what their fans of, and even possibly become friends of their friends, etc.

But there's someone much more important that longs to be your friend. The best friend you can ever have. And not just a cyber-friend, but a real friend who promises to be with you wherever you happen to be. A friend who will never let you down, or "unfriend you". A friend who gave up His life for you. A friend who has made it so that all the incredible promises found in God's word are yours to claim for yourself as Yes! and Amen! :in Him.

And to be His friend, it doesn't take a click of a mouse, but all you have to do is simply, receive Him as Lord and Savior of your life through faith. As the title of one Bong puts it, "Jesus, Sinners will receive"!

May all the members and friends of Messiah recognize the privilege of knowing Jesus as their best friend not only for this life but for all eternity. And as a result, demonstrate to all the resulting benefits of being Jesus' friend by bearing much fruit to the glory of God.

From a Fellow FOJ:

Your Pastor,
Pastor Wendt

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