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Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 118 - Biblical Friendship and Connection

Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 118 - Biblical Friendship and Connection

Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #118 – Biblical Friendship and Connection

Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to seek, find, and follow Jesus together as we live with purposed eternal perspective.

As my middle daughter has grown, it has been a joy for me to witness the types of friends she chooses. Over the last year, I’ve delighted in the depth of her friendships with people, especially those who love Jesus and are also trying to grow a life that honors and pleases Him.

Would you agree that friendship is a blessing? Close friends are an extraordinary gift. I’ve always been intrigued by people, their stories, their dreams, their backgrounds, and beliefs. Listening to others enables us to grow individually and display empathy, sympathy, and feel a sense of connection, even if for a brief period of time.

Experience has taught me that some people are meant to stay acquaintances, some are friends for a season, and some are God-sent companions who become family as our relationship spans many years and distances. One of my greatest joys in relation to long friendships is that whenever we have been apart for a great many months or sometimes years, whenever we talk again, it feels like there was never a separation. We are able to pick up where we left off, and although time has passed, and we have continued developing as individuals while away from each other, our hearts are still intertwined.

God certainly values friendship. Have you ever noticed how many friendship stories the Bible contains? Just to name a few, I think of David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18, 19, and 20. Then, 2 Samuel 1 and 9 show us how their relationship endured even after the death of Jonathan. The story of Ruth and Naomi has always been special to me, and in Ruth 1:16-17, we see the love Ruth carries for her mother-in-law and close friend, Naomi. Daniel 2:49 shows us a way Daniel looked out for his friends. 2 Kings 2:2 shows Elisha looking out for Elijah. Although his friends were imperfect and didn’t always offer godly perspective, Job 2:11-13 shows that Job’s friends did the best they knew how as they came to be with him in his time of need. Philippians 2:19-23 shows how highly Paul thought of his younger friend, Timothy.

Friendship is obviously biblical and is of great importance to our Heavenly Father.

John 15:13-15 speaks of the greatest friendship in history as it says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s 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.”

This passage of scripture shows us that Jesus considers His followers to be His chosen, beloved friends. By laying His life down for us, Jesus has already proven that He is our ultimate best friend. As we step forward in obedience and spread His love to others through the Holy Spirit working within us, we can draw closer to the type of friend He desires us to be to Him and to others. What a miracle that as our friend who loves and cares deeply for us, Jesus makes everything the Father has taught Him known if we care to pay attention to Him.

Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Obviously, Jesus calls us to care for others, not just our friends. Besides, if we didn’t extend love to those we come into contact with, how would we ever find new friends? Those who have built deep friendships with people understand that what they have together is a treasure, and if your friends are also believers, there is a depth and purity that cannot be found by those who don’t pursue Christ. There’s also a spirit-led ability to see from the perspective of the others if difficulties arise. Without Christ, we are unable to handle disagreements in ways that genuinely please the Lord each time.

Imagine your best friends and the relationships you have shared over time. Just as each person is unique, our closest friends will bring out different aspects of our personality. You know who you think of calling if you want to discuss biblical or political issues, who will help you deepen your walk with Christ, who will make you laugh, who will tell you when you are wrong, and who will simply listen when you need a shoulder to cry on or a sympathetic ear.

Jesus is able to do all of this, but also much, much more. I often imagine what it must have been like for the disciples as they walked this earth with Jesus at their side. Christ’s inner circle of men were privileged to learn from and fellowship with Him directly. The relationship we have available to us now through salvation in Christ is even more intimate, because Jesus inhabits followers through the deposit of the Holy Spirit within us. This guarantee of eternal worth and value allows us to abide with Jesus now and live with anticipation of a glorious fellowship to come.

Although I much prefer the Holy Spirit residing within me, and I know how desperately I need Him, I’m still intrigued by the relationship Jesus held with his disciples. The term “disciple” in Christianity refers primarily to a dedicated follower of Jesus. We see this term used in Acts, within the New Testament, and of course, in the gospels. In that time period, being a disciple meant the “follower of a teacher.” The student would actively imitate the life and teachings of their master. They deliberately desired, and took action to become, a replica of their teacher.

Are you actively trying to become a replica of Christ?

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do as we follow Him as believers?

If you are not purposely leaning into and relying on Christ, what is stopping you?

Through the blessed benefit of the resurrection, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, abiding within to enable us to become more like Christ as we release self and allow Him to disciple us.

It sounds so easy, yet our pride and ignorance make it so hard.

How do we maintain and deepen this great friendship we have been blessed to receive with Jesus? How do we live as a student who becomes a replica of Jesus, our teacher and friend?

Connection is the answer.

In John 15:1-27, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in My love. If you keep My commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s 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 so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in My name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of My name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates Me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both Me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.’
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me. And you also must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning.”

What are 9 truths we receive from this passage of scripture?

1. Jesus, the true vine, is the Source of all life.

2. Jesus tells us of two types of branches, those that bear fruit and those that are barren. Just as we cannot tell the character of a person by simply looking at them, branches may appear the same until one fails to yield fruit.

3. No branch is able to bear fruit unless it remains connected to the vine. Christians cannot survive and mature in their faith unless we remain connected to the true vine, Jesus. Abiding in and continuing to seek Jesus, deepening our walk with Him moment by moment, is the only way to bear fruit that honors and glorifies God.

4. As we remain connected to the vine through Bible study, prayer, worship, and seeking Jesus in all we do, we view the world through an eternal lens as Christ did, expectant of the work the holy Spirit is unfolding within and through us daily.

5. Joy and love are natural grown through abiding in deepening relationship with Jesus. Jesus desires us to have full, abundant lives!

6. Christ tells us that His followers are His beloved friends. Because He has already laid His life down for us, Jesus has proven His love for us. We must choose whether to serve the Lord and allow us to love one another in the ways He has taught through humble, obedient, sacrificial lifestyles.

7. The love and sacrifice of Jesus calls us to bear fruit, to live out the gospel through obedience to the Holy Spirit within us, and to share the gospel with love and humility. Believers have a strong calling to become lifelong disciples of Jesus, not merely superficial believers, and to endure what the world may throw at us with the grace of Christ, knowing He is our shield and strength.

8. Persecution should, unfortunately, be expected. If the world hated Christ, it will certainly hate those who exemplify Him.

9. Just as Jesus promised and sent His disciples the Spirit of Truth to testify through the oral and written testimony of the apostles, we have the provision of the Holy Spirit within us to disciple, embolden, and equip us for the purpose we are to serve under Christ.

Jesus, our best friend, loves at all times and gave the greatest sacrifice a friend can give for us, whether we choose Him or not. As we draw nearer to Jesus, He draws nearer to us and we begin to understand the depth and width of His everlasting, sacrificial love. Jesus calls us His friend, but He is actually so much more.

Knowing that moment by moment we must release self and choose to become a clearer version of Christ daily, let’s look at 6 practical facts that help ensure we remain maturing on the vine of Christ.

1. Choose friends wisely, especially your closest ones. As we are reminded in this episode, friends are incredibly important. If we tend to become like those we are around, we want our friends to reflect Christ and for our friendships to stretch and grow us in godly ways. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

2. Although we can be away from good friends for a time and still pick up where we left off, we must remain connected to Christ. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jesus spoke of being the vine because He knew the disciples would understand the concept He was trying to make clear. Vines were common in that day as the economy was based on producing and maintaining healthy crops. Vines grow from a central branch which is rooted deep in the soil. Smaller branches then spread from this deep-rooted main branch and bear the fruit. Just as fruit on the vines cannot live apart from the source of sustaining life, we cannot live healthy, productive, godly lives without remaining connected to our central branch, and Source of Life, Jesus, who enables us to thrive through His love and nourishment.

3. Keep His commands. This world has no power over us unless we allow it. Rely on the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit within you in every way. 1 John 2:27 says, “But the anointing that you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in Him.” The word abide is used in the Bible more than 100 times. Nineteen of those references are used in 1 John alone. Abide in this verse is calling us to continue or remain in relationship with Christ – abide in Him. If we do so, we are empowered to believe and obey the truth that sets us free and also enabled to love Him and others. In this verse from 1 John we are also reminded of the power of abiding in Christ. The powerful, life-giving word of God, is sufficient for the wisdom from Christ that we need and the application of all things. The Holy Spirit reveals the truths of God for those who seek and abide in Christ.

4. Love with a sacrificial love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Only through the strength and empowerment of the Holy Spirit within us and a strong, connected life with Christ can we begin to offer the unselfish and sacrificial love of Jesus.

5. If the world hates us, it hated Jesus first. If they see Him in us, they will hate us. Matthew 10:22 says, “And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Only through abiding in Christ will be able to withstand the hatred and persecution of this world. Even when we abide in Him, our flesh calls to retaliate or condemn others, especially when they hurt us or those we love. As we remain connected to the vine of Christ, the Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Christ within us, transforming us into a clearer vision of His image, enabling the Spirit to conquer our fleshly nature.

6. Jesus leaves us two important weapons - the Holy Spirit within us and the Holy Spirit-inspired Bible will enable us to remain connected to Him and to be able to receive and communicate His love as we obediently follow Him. John 14:15-21 says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.”

Friends are such a blessing and I have several godly women in my life that I cherish. Like you probably do, I feel it is a gift to sit down and talk with friends of the same mindset and encourage each other as we travel life in this world. Each friend I have is a treasure and a gift that I know God has placed in my life for specific reasons. I pray we always seek God together and reveal Him to each other more clearly as time marches on. Yet, Jesus is the very best friend any of us can have. Whether you have several friends or you feel like no one understands you, know that Christ does. Trust His word and the sacrifice Jesus offered willingly for you. Seek greater connection with Him as you choose to remain connected to the vine, our Source of Life.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus. We praise You for Your goodness,
generosity, and sacrifice to and for us. Help each of us listening to this podcast episode to seek and follow You with a sacrificial love that allows us to begin a deeper walk with You and to become a clearer image of Christ each day. Help us to be fruitful as we remain attached to Your vine. Produce more fruit within us and use it for Your good pleasure. May we draw ever nearer to You and trust that You are drawing nearer to us, enabling us to shine You more clearly and sincerely, drawing others to You. Thank you for being our guide, advisor, and friend. You are all we need. Help our lives to reflect that truth. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Thank you for listening to this podcast. If you find value in what you hear, and you would like more information on the topic we discussed today, I invite you to listen to previous episodes. You may find them on the website. Click on podcasts and type in the topic or title you wish to hear in the search bar at the top of the page.

Have you listened to my second podcast, “Purposed Parent/Connected Child” yet? I hope you will listen, follow it, and share both of my podcasts with friends or family who would like to choose Christ over culture and be a parent (or be a grandparent) who connects with eternal purpose.

Remember, if we are not purposed in knowing Jesus ourselves and showing Him to the next generation, the world will direct them away from Christ. Live With Eternal Perspective helps us to find, trust, and follow Christ more intimately. Purposed Parent/Connected Child shares biblical, practical truths for parents and grandparents to influence and mentor Christ over culture.

I pray that what you hear on this podcast draws you nearer to God and helps you cling to Him, despite any circumstances in your life. Until next week, keep looking Up while focusing on new ways to Live With Eternal Perspective.

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