Friendship

Do you have people you would call close friends? 70% of Americans say they don’t. 43% say they have only one person or no persons they can confide in. How would you answer these questions?


When something goes wrong, do you have at least one friend you can easily talk with about it? Yes No


Do you have a friend you can drop in on at any time without calling ahead? Yes No


Is there someone who could accurately name your greatest fears and temptations? Yes No


Do you have one or more friends whom you meet with regularly? Yes No


Do you have a friend you know well enough to trust their confidentiality? Yes No


If you received good news like a promotion or good grades, do you have a friend you would call immediately just to let them know? Yes No


If you said no to most of these questions, maybe it’s time for you to get connected to a group of people who you can do life with.


Friendships are crucial to our lives. Robert Putnam tracked the lives of 7000 people over 9 years. The focus of the study was relationships. The study found that the most isolated people were 3x more likely to die than those with strong friendships. People who had bad health habits like smoking and overeating but strong social ties lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated. In other words, it’s better to eat Twinkies with good friends than to eat broccoli alone.


Chicago Tribune Columnist Marla Paul wrote: “I am lonely. This loneliness saddens me. How did it happen I could be 42 years old and not have enough friends? She asked her husband if there was something wrong with her. She wondered if people were just too busy for friends. It seemed as if ‘every woman’s friendship quote has been filled and she’s no longer accepting new applicants.”


Anne Lamott has said that the most powerful sermon in the world consists of two words: me too. When you’re feeling broken, you need to know that someone else has been there. “I know what you’re going thru.” “I’m in this with you.” Me too. We want everyone in this church to be part of a group where you can be with people who will say, Me too. Do you have people you would call close friends? 70% of Americans say they don’t. 43% say they have only one person or no persons they can confide in. How would you answer these questions?


When something goes wrong, do you have at least one friend you can easily talk with about it? Yes No


Do you have a friend you can drop in on at any time without calling ahead? Yes No


Is there someone who could accurately name your greatest fears and temptations? Yes No


Do you have one or more friends whom you meet with regularly? Yes No


Do you have a friend you know well enough to trust their confidentiality? Yes No


If you received good news like a promotion or good grades, do you have a friend you would call immediately just to let them know? Yes No


If you said no to most of these questions, maybe it’s time for you to get connected to a group of people who you can do life with.


Friendships are crucial to our lives. Robert Putnam tracked the lives of 7000 people over 9 years. The focus of the study was relationships. The study found that the most isolated people were 3x more likely to die than those with strong friendships. People who had bad health habits like smoking and overeating but strong social ties lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated. In other words, it’s better to eat Twinkies with good friends than to eat broccoli alone.


Chicago Tribune Columnist Marla Paul wrote: “I am lonely. This loneliness saddens me. How did it happen I could be 42 years old and not have enough friends? She asked her husband if there was something wrong with her. She wondered if people were just too busy for friends. It seemed as if ‘every woman’s friendship quote has been filled and she’s no longer accepting new applicants.”


Anne Lamott has said that the most powerful sermon in the world consists of two words: me too. When you’re feeling broken, you need to know that someone else has been there. “I know what you’re going thru.” “I’m in this with you.” Me too. We want everyone in this church to be part of a group where you can be with people who will say, Me too.


What are the characteristics of true friendship?


Honesty and vulnerability. One of the things I appreciate most about connection groups is that we don’t have to put on masks. We don’t pretend things are ok when they’re not. We’re not fake with each other. We can be honest with each and say, you know, things in my life are rotten. I feel bitter about life. And I wonder where God is in my life. Our marriage is struggling. Our finances are in the pits. I can’t stop cutting myself. Everyone in this room needs a place where he can be open and vulnerable. One of the best places to find that is in a connection group. You won’t be pressured to be transparent. You can share as much or as little as you’d like. But if you choose to share, you’ll be in a group where it’s OK to be totally honest. If you’re angry you can be candid. If you’re frustrated you can be open. If you have doubts, you can be transparent. You don’t have to hide! You can be just you!


Acceptance. Is there someone like that in your life, someone who accepts you right where you are right now? Do you have a group of friends who accept you just as you are? Who love you in spite of your sins and flaws and weaknesses? This kind of friendship is rare. Keith Miller says the neighborhood bar is the best counterfeit of the church the world has to offer. You can go there and tell people your troubles, and they won’t tell anybody else. You can go there and just let your hair down and be yourself. It’s a counterfeit, dispensing liquor instead of grace. Despair instead of hope. But Miller says, “With all my heart, I want the church to be the kind of place where people can come in and say, I’m sunk, I’m beat, I’ve had it.”


If you’re looking for acceptance, you can find it in a connection group! A place where no matter what your warts, you’re welcome. No matter what you’re history. No matter how bad you’ve screwed up. A community of grace, not a community of judgment. Place for broken people. Winner’s circles and losers circles. Winner’s circles are disappointing. Because there’s no authenticity. The only place we ever find real community is with broken people. People who are battered and beaten up by life.


Closeness. I used to get with a group of guys every year for a weekend retreat. We did it every year for 20 years. We’ve seen each other thru tough life circumstances. Some have been thru divorces. Some have struggled with addictions. One guy has a son who was shipped off to an island in the Pacific because he was so destructive to the family. One guy lost his wife to cancer and we all attended the funeral together. Let me ask you, do you have friends like this? Friends who sacrifice for you and for whom you sacrifice? Will the six people who’ll carry your casket know you? Will you have paid the cost of being their friend such that they’ll willingly do the same for you?


Tony Woodlief, “My 298 Facebook friends aren't the ones who remember our dead daughter's birthday or leave flowers at her grave. Nor among them is the pastor who baptized each of our children and waged a personal holy war to keep our marriage from crumbling years ago. We have these deeper friendships because we've tried to build a life in one place. They sprang up because the stuff of life happened to this cluster of us living near one another, and much of it was too joyous or heartbreaking not to share with someone. If friendship is the key to happiness, then maybe this is the key to friendship, to be enmeshed -- not just tangentially or voyeuristically, but physically -- in the lives of others.”


But here’s the thing: We can’t take care of each other unless we’re close enough to know the problems. Too often, we only hear about the house burning down. We don’t hear about the electrical problems. We hear about the divorce, but what if we could have known about the problems in the relationship and headed them off? We hear about the suicide, but what if we had been close enough to encourage someone else in the middle of his darkness? We hear that their son ran away from home, but what if they would have shared all the conflict in their house? What if people were close enough to say, me, too?


Spirituality. Let me go back to where I started. Do you have people you would call close friends? People you can be honest and vulnerable with? People who will accept you with all of your flaws and failures? People who are attentive to your needs when you’re in the ditch? People who will help you draw close to God? If you don’t, let me encourage you to take the first step.


God never intended Christians to be alone. God wants you to live out your faith in community with other people. Think of all the ‘one another’ phrases in the bible: Love one another, serve one another, honor one another, encourage one another, carry each other’s burdens, and on and on the list goes. You’ll never see the hand of God in your life until you choose to live in community with other people. Because God uses other people to help you learn what it is to love and serve. To grow and mature. To give encouragement and to receive encouragement. If you’re not in a group, sign up this Sunday and explore the options for community! You’ll be glad you did!


What are the characteristics of true friendship?


Honesty and vulnerability. One of the things I appreciate most about connection groups is that we don’t have to put on masks. We don’t pretend things are ok when they’re not. We’re not fake with each other. We can be honest with each and say, you know, things in my life are rotten. I feel bitter about life. And I wonder where God is in my life. Our marriage is struggling. Our finances are in the pits. I can’t stop cutting myself. Everyone in this room needs a place where he can be open and vulnerable. One of the best places to find that is in a connection group. You won’t be pressured to be transparent. You can share as much or as little as you’d like. But if you choose to share, you’ll be in a group where it’s OK to be totally honest. If you’re angry you can be candid. If you’re frustrated you can be open. If you have doubts, you can be transparent. You don’t have to hide! You can be just you!


Acceptance. Is there someone like that in your life, someone who accepts you right where you are right now? Do you have a group of friends who accept you just as you are? Who love you in spite of your sins and flaws and weaknesses? This kind of friendship is rare. Keith Miller says the neighborhood bar is the best counterfeit of the church the world has to offer. You can go there and tell people your troubles, and they won’t tell anybody else. You can go there and just let your hair down and be yourself. It’s a counterfeit, dispensing liquor instead of grace. Despair instead of hope. But Miller says, “With all my heart, I want the church to be the kind of place where people can come in and say, I’m sunk, I’m beat, I’ve had it.”


If you’re looking for acceptance, you can find it in a connection group! A place where no matter what your warts, you’re welcome. No matter what you’re history. No matter how bad you’ve screwed up. A community of grace, not a community of judgment. Place for broken people. Winner’s circles and losers circles. Winner’s circles are disappointing. Because there’s no authenticity. The only place we ever find real community is with broken people. People who are battered and beaten up by life.

Closeness. I used to get with a group of guys every year for a weekend retreat. We did it every year for 20 years. We’ve seen each other thru tough life circumstances. Some have been thru divorces. Some have struggled with addictions. One guy has a son who was shipped off to an island in the Pacific because he was so destructive to the family. One guy lost his wife to cancer and we all attended the funeral together. Let me ask you, do you have friends like this? Friends who sacrifice for you and for whom you sacrifice? Will the six people who’ll carry your casket know you? Will you have paid the cost of being their friend such that they’ll willingly do the same for you?


Tony Woodlief, “My 298 Facebook friends aren't the ones who remember our dead daughter's birthday or leave flowers at her grave. Nor among them is the pastor who baptized each of our children and waged a personal holy war to keep our marriage from crumbling years ago. We have these deeper friendships because we've tried to build a life in one place. They sprang up because the stuff of life happened to this cluster of us living near one another, and much of it was too joyous or heartbreaking not to share with someone. If friendship is the key to happiness, then maybe this is the key to friendship, to be enmeshed -- not just tangentially or voyeuristically, but physically -- in the lives of others.”


But here’s the thing: We can’t take care of each other unless we’re close enough to know the problems. Too often, we only hear about the house burning down. We don’t hear about the electrical problems. We hear about the divorce, but what if we could have known about the problems in the relationship and headed them off? We hear about the suicide, but what if we had been close enough to encourage someone else in the middle of his darkness? We hear that their son ran away from home, but what if they would have shared all the conflict in their house? What if people were close enough to say, me, too?


Spirituality. Let me go back to where I started. Do you have people you would call close friends? People you can be honest and vulnerable with? People who will accept you with all of your flaws and failures? People who are attentive to your needs when you’re in the ditch? People who will help you draw close to God? If you don’t, let me encourage you to take the first step.


God never intended Christians to be alone. God wants you to live out your faith in community with other people. Think of all the ‘one another’ phrases in the bible: Love one another, serve one another, honor one another, encourage one another, carry each other’s burdens, and on and on the list goes. You’ll never see the hand of God in your life until you choose to live in community with other people. Because God uses other people to help you learn what it is to love and serve. To grow and mature. To give encouragement and to receive encouragement. If you’re not in a group, sign up this Sunday and explore the options for community! You’ll be glad you did!

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