Saturday, December 23, 2006

Behold, A Great Friend Is Born!

Sometimes I wonder about what kind of friend I really am.

I'm forgetful. Somehow people's birthdays seem to sneak up on me and I have to rush and get them a birthday gift (that's probably because I tend to tell myself I'll write them on a calendar later, but never end up buying a calendar and putting their b-days in it).

I can be self-absorbed. In a world full of billions of people, somehow my issues and problems seem to rise to the top of the priority list faster than oil in a cup of water. I can't even begin to count the opportunities I've had to to help someone out that I've let pass by because I was too wrapped up in my own feelings.

I can be totally clueless. It blows my mind when I think about certain instances where things were clearly obvious to others that I completely didn't notice why so-and-so was feeling that way. How I did I miss all the signs?

The fact is that we, as human beings, have completely missed the mark in the friendship arena. Sometimes we're good friends. Sometimes we're descent friends. And sometimes we really suck at beings friends at all! Everything in our sinful nature urges us to forget others' needs and to focus on ourselves. If we're not carfeful than we can get this "me" against "them" attitude. We can become the lone solider, the lone ranger, the kind of person who doesn't need anyone to walk alongside them in their journey. But what some fail to realize is that this kind of living is dangerous.

So how do we get out of the friendship muck we're in?

It all starts with God, who loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son as a sacrifice so humankind would not be left alone to drown in our self-indulgence. Not only did God give us a Savior, a Redeemer, a Lord, and a Light on Christmas Day...He gave us a friend, a Great Friend!

Jesus is the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). And it is Jesus who came to show us the Way, to gently yet firmly guide us down the path of true friendship.

Eastman Curtis Ministrues did this commerical on TBN several years ago that started off with a man sitting alone in prison cell just minutes away from getting the death penalty. A prison guard walked by and he and the prisoner exchanged looks. The prisoner had this "I know I'm guilty but I don't want to die look" and the prison guard had this amazing compassionate and understanding look. The next scene shows two different prison guards walking "the prisioner" to his final death, where he would be electrocuted. But as the guards are strapping him down and about to pull the level or whatever they do to electric a person we get a close-up of the prisioner's face and we see that it's not the original prisoner we saw at the beginning, but in fact it is the prison guard dressed in the orange jumpsuit. Then they cut to the real prisoner who is now dressed in the the real prision guard's uniform who is looking through the glass window of where the real guard is about to be executed at. They exchange one last look and the real prisoner's face is filled with gratitude before he walks away and the guard gives a faint smile just before they execute him because he knows he saved that man's life. Then it fades to black and a question pops up on the screen: What kind of friend do we have in Jesus?

The depth of that commerical sticks with me to this day, even though I was in high school when I saw it. It's a beautiful parable of what Jesus did for us. He was the innocent prison guard and we were the guilty prisoner. We were all condemned to a grueling eternal death, but Jesus switched places with us and paid the price for our sins. By Him doing so, He saved our lives and not only did He save our lives, He offers us eternal life if we believe in Him.

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. (Jesus, in John 15:-17)
As you celebrate this Christmas with your family and friends, be reminded of what the true meaning of Christmas is about...the birth of a holy child who became the Savior and Great Friend of the world.

Merry Christmas everyone! & Happy Birthday Jesus!!

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