Steve Macchia Blog

The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self – part 3

friendship-day-sms

“The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self” – part 3

My wife and I recently spent an evening with friends we’ve known for nearly four decades. Such friends are pure gold; rare gems; and a joy to know. We’ve seen each other through the highest highs and the lowest lows. We’ve come alongside each other during times of grief and suffering as well as accomplishment and celebration. We’ve strongly urged one another on toward love and good deeds and we’ve quietly forgiven one another with grace and kindness. We know we’re far short of perfection and we’ve learned to laugh about our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

In short, we’ve experienced true friendship.  And it’s been good for our souls, life-giving for others, and honoring to God.

To allow friendships to become anything other than honorable and grace-filled is to squander the work of God in our midst. The Kingdom of God is to be built up and expanded through the shared work of the Church, a community of like-minded and like-hearted friends. Not all of them BFF’s (best friends forever), but men and women, young and old, of all ethnicities and colors, who are on a worthy pursuit of friendship with God, one another and deep within ourselves. To treat one another in any lesser fashion is to miss one of life’s greatest gifts!

Today, are you a blessing and a joy to those who surround you as friends of Jesus who are befriending others in Jesus’ name? How do your initiatives and responses to your friends make Jesus smile?

Consider prayerfully the following phrases as you reflect on your friendships and audit their health…

The love of a friend is the best gift of all.

The presence of a friend is the balm for your weary soul.

The listening ear of a friend fosters the abundance of life.

The grace of a friend emulates the arms and voice of God.

Friends love at all times.

Friends rejoice when you rejoice.

Friends weep when you weep.

Friends warn you of pending troubles.

Friends graciously forgive you.

Friends inspire you to greatness.

Friends encourage your best self.

Friends share your joy and gift you with joy.

Friends laugh with and never at you.

Friends urge you onward and forward.

Friends never ridicule, shame or blame you.

Friends never desert you but always defend you.

Friends never purposefully harm you.

Friends pray for you.

Friends pray with you.

Friends always point you back to Jesus.

 

Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.



The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self – part 2

The Year of Friendship: With God, Others and Self

friendship-day-sms

On the heels of our most recent blizzard, the first day post-storm was sunny and beautiful, but the weather people called it a day of “inconsequential sunshine.” I’m sure what they meant was that the sunshine would not affect the temperatures in any consequential way, but I couldn’t help but wonder, “When is sunshine ever inconsequential?” I love the sunshine, even on a cold day in January.

Two days later the inconsequential nature of sunshine hit home…literally. We were now days into the post-blizzard “bomb” affect of accumulated snow that was stagnant in the frigid below zero temps. The sun was shining but there was indeed no melting…except in our kitchen, through one of our light fixtures, when the drips began in earnest. This was a result of massive ice dams in the back (north) side of the house, the “pond” had formed under the snow packed roof in between the outside cold and the inside warmth of our home, and now the water was seeping in where it was free to roam.

That’s when I began praying for “consequential sunshine” to return once more…with temps getting back above freezing, thank you very much. Only then will the drips end and the ice dams melt; tackling the problem long term will have to wait until spring.

Unlike the sunshine, there is never a time when friendship with Jesus is inconsequential. His love is unconditional, extravagant, and always consequential. Especially when the storms of life appear, wreak havoc, and compound our lives with disappointment. It’s only our friendship with Jesus that keeps us sane, helps us recover, empowers us to be restored, and fosters the renewal we all long for each day.

In John 15, Jesus says it clearly, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you…as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 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…I no longer call you servants. Instead, I have called you friends.”

Spiritual friendship with our brothers and sisters in Christ begins with the quality of friendship we enjoy with Jesus. They go hand in glove; one impacts the other. They are both consequential. What is the state of your friendship with Jesus? In what way do you want to foster greater depth and intimacy with your friend Jesus? Perhaps it might be best to jumpstart that conversation by considering how best to remain in Jesus, as he remains in you.

Some ideas to consider:  join Jesus in the biblical text, noticing how Jesus reaches out to his followers as you read the Gospels; or, invite Jesus to make himself known to you in the quietness of your prayer closet and throughout your day of serving others; or, simply press the pause button and open your journal to record the ways Jesus has initiated friendship toward you over the years.  Jesus wants to be your #1 spiritual friend…in fact, as your Savior and Lord, Teacher and King, his friendship with you is tied to every other aspect of his affection for you as the God of all creation.

When a cold but sunny day appears on your horizon, it’s never inconsequential. Your friendship with Jesus will always bring meaning and hope, health and strength to even the darkest hour.

Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.

 

 



2018: The Year of…

2018: The Year of…

I’m deeply concerned about the diminution of a very important word. It’s been absconded by social media. It’s been destroyed by politics and the media. It’s been lost in our closed-off neighborhoods. It’s absent in many business settings. It’s missing in far too many Christian ministry and church circles.  It’s simply gone in too many places and it needs to be recovered once more.

The word I’m referring to isn’t just a word, it’s a defining concept for relationships of all stripes: for families, churches, communities, businesses, and our wider world. It’s more than six letters combined to form the word, it’s actually central to the core of our being and the meaningful state of our souls. It impacts our walk with God, our self-awareness, our interactions with others, our community involvement, and our service to others. It’s beyond ourselves but it’s also about ourselves.

The word I’m referring to is “friendship” and in 2018 I’d like to invite you to join me in reclaiming the word in a fresh, new, life-giving way. It belongs to us as spiritual men and women, young and old, and it’s key to our walk with God. In fact, Jesus calls us “friends” and invites us to be “friends” with one another and who, when we bear fruit together, bear fruit that lasts.

Without being friends, we may in fact produce fruit, but not necessarily fruit that endures. When we treat each other as “servants” without first being “friends” we may have a functional relationship that works toward goals, objectives, and numbers, but without being “friends”first and foremost our collective efforts may be evidenced solely for prideful reasons. We certainly don’t readily admit that our efforts are toward self-defining ends, but without friendship with God and one another we may in fact lose the greatest opportunity of all: bearing fruit that lasts!

In John 15, Jesus makes it clear: abide in him as he abides in us…receive his loving friendship…love one another as friends…bear fruit that lasts. It’s not very complicated; it’s actually crystal clear. And yet, as I’ve experienced personally and have observed in so many other venues, the concept of friendship can far too easily be relegated off to the periphery, or it can be completely ignored, and then powering over others gets undue center stage. Spiritual leaders pay close attention to the strength, health, and oneness of their team of friends.

And so, I hereby wish to declare 2018 “The Year of Friendship: With God, Others, and Self” and invite you to make the same declaration. It will be good for your soul, your relationship with God, and your delight to be spiritually healthy  friends with other friends of Jesus who seek to love one another and bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom.

Over the coming weeks I will be devoting my blog to the subject of spiritual friendship…friendship that’s different from others who claim friendship but who do so without God in the center. However, when God is given his rightful place among friends of Jesus, there is a marked difference…one that the world and yes, even the Christian community, needs now more than ever.

Join me in this pilgrimage; invite others to join us too; and let’s see how God informs our hearts, minds, souls, and our friendships accordingly. Let’s make 2018 “The Year of Friendship!”

At the outset…as you reflect on your role as “friend” ask yourself this question: How do my initiatives and responses to my friends make Jesus smile? We will return to this question often in the coming weeks.

Behold Jesus, the One who calls you his beloved friend. Believe the priority of loving friendship for all of life. Belong to the community of friends of Jesus who delight in bearing fruit that lasts. Become renewed by the gifts of friendship received and offered in Jesus’ name.