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This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. - John 15:12-13 (NLT)
Our family loves to serve at the good ole’ baseball concession stand! Nachos with cheese, burgers on the grill, hotdogs, chicken tenders, candy, and some popcorn. The gate opens and the fun begins. We are hustling and bustling! Feeding lots of hungry folks. Then it hits me -- this seemingly insignificant stand is actually an opportunity to build a bond of friendship. We care for one another and about one another. Nothing builds a bond of friendship like serving together.
We received a text the other night from one of the families on our concession stand team. She wanted the team to come over for a cookout after the season so we could all hang out together! To think, it all began over concessions! It’s just friends coming together, caring for one another -- but it’s contagious! Friendship, the way Jesus lived it out, strengthens us and bonds us to others -- to sharpen, to encourage, to bring laughter, to experience joy, and to enrich our lives.
That is what Jesus modeled in Scripture. He not only tells us how to strengthen the spiritual bonds of friendship -- He showed us. He laid down His life for His friends -- me and you. When we position ourselves to care for our friends, we actually take on the look of Jesus. He challenges us with the words, “Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” That is a big feat. No matter what -- love our friends in the same way He does -- with care, with sacrifice, with grace, with selflessness, with fight, and with no conditions.
How are you extending and/or experiencing this type of friendship in your own life? What holds you back or spurs you on? Take some time today to think about how you can be a vessel God uses to strengthen the bonds of friendship in your life.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. - John 13:1 (NLT)
This past week I was reminded of just how valuable ministry-teammates are after spending three days with our Southland Staff on retreat. In our last session during worship, I opened my eyes and looked around the room. And, face after face, I expressed such gratitude -- thinking -- these are the friends I get to share in the same mission for our church. These people give and give and give some more because they are called and compelled by our mission as a church!
Then, that same day, I was having lunch with my husband’s ministry team during their golf outing. It was the same feeling of gratitude. We get to have these friends to share the mission with. These friends are also teammates in ministry. What a gift!
Jesus spent three years of His life investing in twelve friends. He needed people who would fight with Him and for Him when times were tough. He chose those twelve. He called those twelve. He poured the eternal mission into those twelve. They watched Him heal, teach, love, bring truth, extend grace, and turn things upside down. Their relationship was built on giving the Gospel away.
Who is in your sphere of influence that you can connect with and circle up around the mission? How can you link arms with some friends who are giving away the Gospel? Friends like this are life-changing. The beauty of community comes into play when the very essence of the community is rooted in helping people meet Jesus. Not to mention the bond that occurs in the community when the friendships are anchored to generosity. That kind of connection is so contagious and is exactly what a hurting world needs to see and experience.
So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. - John 13:4-5 (NLT)
My husband and I met in college. Then, we got married and began serving on staff together at a church in Ohio. It wasn’t too long into serving there that my husband was feeling led by God to pursue Seminary. Information from a college in Wilmore, Kentucky came across our table. We had never been to Kentucky. As we prayed, we sensed we should come for a visit. It wasn’t long afterward we knew this is where we were supposed to be.
We packed up and moved from a church we loved and people we loved serving with to move to a place we had never been before. Our new seminary friends invited us to attend a service at Southland and… we fell in love! In the season following that first visit, we met some really amazing people. One couple in particular we really connected with. We began spending time with this couple, sharing meals together, sharing life together. We did everything from trips together, kids’ birthdays, and more.
One night our two husbands -- separately -- each had a dream of doing ministry together. One had the vision for a ministry and the other had the land and resource for a ministry. They put their heads and hearts together and now we have a ministry that serves hurting women in Kentucky and beyond. We had no idea going into the friendship that there would be such a strong missional bond. We have shared so many memories together.
Jesus modeled through washing His disciples’ feet that life-giving message of servanthood. Jesus was showing His disciples what it looked like. We have been serving alongside this couple for 18 years now. We had no idea our friendship would also include serving others to this extent. Our spiritual bond as friends has been strengthened as we’ve served others together.
Take some time this week to serve with your friends. Or, check out our Groups page to see how to get connected into Biblical Community. It will enrich your life and the friends you serve with.Share Tweet
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. - John 13:34-35 (NLT)
During one of the weekend services, I had a friend text me about something that spoke to her during the message. There was a video in the message that particular weekend that showed a family opening their home to college students. They would share a meal, connect, serve on mission, and provide a safe place for these students to come to. My friend said, “We should do this for our community of students”. I said, “Why not? Let’s do it!”
So, we started a Sunday Night Friends Supper. The students would eat, did service projects, played games, studied the Bible, and just hung out. These students grew close to one another and began to share deeply in life together. It became a place where these students would enrich their friendships. They really came to love one another. And, to this day, they have strong friendship roots. They have been with each other through joyous times and grievous times.
Jesus gave us the challenge and invitation to love one another. This love would be a living example to a hurting world. It would be the conduit by which the world would come to experience and encounter Him. He also tells us in the Word -- that the world would know we are His followers by our love. This love would draw all people to Jesus.
How does this love and fighting for friends impact those around you? What does this look like in your life? It is amazing to think that friends -- embodying the love of Jesus -- can show a world craving for authentic relationships -- that this is something to fight for. Life can be difficult and finding friends that stand with you and for you make all the difference. Especially, when the contagiousness of it points people to Jesus.
I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. - John 13:15 (NLT)
We do a lot of life with our Community. Carpools. Volleyball games. Baseball games. Birthday parties. Card nights. Watching football. Weekend getaways. And the list could go on… One of the greatest gifts in life is a circle of good friends who love us unconditionally. Those friends are with you in the good and in the challenging seasons of life. Having these kinds of friends and being these kinds of friends is one way we experience the love of God. These friends become an extension of Him and make life blessed!
I was on a text thread this week with a dear friend whose daughter got extremely sick and had to go the ER. She was in a very critical time. So our community rallied together in prayer. It was amazing to see how the Lord moved in this young lady’s life and the physical strength she had gained from the people God placed around her.
Jesus gives us the challenge, “Do as I have done.” He has given us an example to follow. We all have an innate design - placed there by God himself - for community and belonging. We are made to give and receive spiritual friendship, belonging, community, and meaning. The richness that comes from these types of friendships is unparalleled. Jesus knew we would need this for strength on difficult days and to give us a picture of Himself. This is worth fighting for. To give and receive friendship from the Lord is critical to our lives.
Who are your people? Who is it for you? Who are you this for? I know we all have had seasons where we have been on the giving end of this depth for friendship. We also have had seasons where we have been on the receiving end of this depth of friendship -- either way -- I cannot think of a better way to display Jesus than to love like He does.