By loving others we grow in our friendship with God. You don’t have to settle for a Facebook Friendship with God. You can have the real, irreplaceable relationship.


How many friends do you have? On Facebook, I have 784 friends. If you don’t know what Facebook is, technology is passing you bye, but since you are doing fine without it, don’t worry.

Facebook Friends. I have friends who have friends who have thousands of friends on facebook.
Out of my 784 friends, there are some I have never met. There are a few I would not recognize because all I’ve seen is a picture. These days anyone who gives you a “thumbs up” on Facebook is suddenly considered a “friend.” When a “friend” is someone you have never met, when a friend is someone that you don't have any personal attachment to, and don’t know who they are other than by what they post, or where they come from, the word “friend” gets so dilute it dissolves.

In the Hebrew Bible, what we Christians call the Old Testament, “Friend” is equal to one’s own self.
A friend is treated “as if he were me.” Somewhere back in a “longago,” I read that if a man has five male friends that man should consider himself extremely blessed by God. Friends in the biblical sense are hard to come by.

Some of my biggest heartbreaks have come from those I called friend. Some of my greatest joys have come from those I call friends.
This year as we travel from our Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the death and the grave on Pentecost the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell believers,
we have been looking at befriending God.

That may sound a little strange, but often we know Jesus as Savior; if we mature in the faith we know Jesus as Lord, knowing him as friend is a greater level of intimacy. Knowing Jesus as friend describes the kind of relationship I want you to share with Him.
We are born into this world a stranger to God. We tend to be leery of strangers.
“Stranger Danger.”We tend to avoid interaction with those strange to us. Jesus invites us into a friendship relationship with him.
John 15:13-17 (NIV)
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 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 did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

We know that we are befriending Jesus when we obey his command and his command is to love each other.
That’s what we are going to explore today, how by loving others we grow in our friendship with God.
You don’t have to settle for a Facebook Friendship with God. You can have the real, irreplaceable relationship.
As followers of Jesus, we are to “go” and bear “fruit,” fruit that will last. I heard an interesting definition of what “real” is. Real is what is irreplaceable. What is not irreplaceable is temporal.
I think if we ever get caught up in a philosophical argument about reality, “what is irreplaceable” as real will be part of the definition.

 Real fruit would be producing something irreplaceable. There may be a number of things that seem irreplaceable but they are not irreplaceable to God, And just might be junk to others. One of my hobbies is going to estate sales. An estate sale is usually how relatives of a deceased person exchange their departed loved one's stuff for money. At one such sale, I noticed a huge family portrait on the wall, The expensively framed around the Patriarch, Matriarch, 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren was hung in a prominent place. I thought this is someone’s irreplaceable heirloom, that no one wanted.
The lesson for me was that the stuff I consider irreplaceable might just be junk to someone else.

The photos, the journals, the collections, those trophies—in reality, Just stuff. Just junk to someone else.
2 Corinthians 4:18 (MSG)
The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.

 I think people are irreplaceable. I am a half partner in making two. But I don’t think that kind of people making is what Jesus had in mind when He said go and bear fruit.

Bearing fruit is breathing salvation, lordship into people. Fruit is born by loving. By teaching others what you know about living life to the full. By teaching with deeds of love by the example of being a disciple, a Christ follower. You deepen your friendship with God.

The soul is real. The soul is what makes you, you. Call it your consciousness if you like.
The soul is irreplaceable. The soul continues to exist even after the body dies. The soul is spiritual.
While the soul resides in its earthly body it is indistinguishable from you. There is an absolute identification.

Bearing fruit is ministering to the soul.
Ministering is another word for loving.

 Matthew 25:35-36 (MSG)
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'

 When you do these types of things you are bearing real fruit for the soul that receives your gift is changed. You have built up, encouraged, comforted, provided for that which is irreplaceable.

 1 John 3:17-19 (MSG)
If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality.

 As you live in God’s reality you are befriending God. You live in God’s reality by practicing real love.  Real love is seeking to meet the need you see. You are ministering to a soul. Bearing, sustaining, carrying, a soul that is irreplaceable.

 How well is your practice going? In 2001 I went to my doctor complaining of chest pains.
Doc ran some tests on my then 41-year-old body. Said it was nothing. 3 months later, major heart attack. Doc was not practicing all that well that day.

 There is an indication that you are practicing well. That you are a friend of God. The indication is Peace.

 Peace not as we English speakers define it, But Peace as Shalom as it is defined in Hebrew,
In the Old Testament. Shalom is basically untranslatable into English, There is no one word that is an adequate substitute. Words like “wholeness” “holiness” or “total well being” come close but still miss the mark.

 Shalom is used as a “hello” and “goodbye” blessing for wellness and wholeness, A blessing that you fulfill God purposes in your life. But the word  Shalom comes with a sense of weaving life altogether into a harmonious whole, the way God created, the way God always intended for them to be.
It means to be safe in your soul.

When Shalom rests in your soul, you are at peace with yourself, a sense of fullness and safety.
Unlike Adam who hid when he heard God approaching in the Garden, you run to God because you know him as friend.

-       It's by practicing real love that we grow in our friendship with God.

By teaching others what you know about living life to the full. By teaching with deeds of love by the example bearing fruit. Bearing, sustaining, carrying, a soul that is irreplaceable. You know you are practicing well when Shalom rests inside of you

1 John 3:18-20 (MSG)
My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

If you want to deepen your friendship with God –love.


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