We all have friends. They come in different shapes and sizes and live near and far from us. Some of those friends are better than our own families to us! While some of those friends have truly let us down and hurt us deeply. As I look at this passage I see a few things that inspire me to become the greatest friend I possibly can be. I hope that you too will be challenged to be this same kind of friend!
1) A Friend of Faith. Don’t you hate being around “debbie-downers”? There are just some people who will never believe it can be done, nor will they ever believe in you or God. Why surround yourself with these people? Why be one of those people yourself? I believe that we forget the power of our own words and encouragement/discouragement. Our belief in someone and in what God is doing or wants to do is crucial to the task being realized! These four men shared a common ground with the paralyzed man: they all believed Jesus could heal him and that he could walk again! Be a friend who believes that God has good things for the people around you. Believe that the only way they may have it is for YOU to believe it yourself!
2) A Friend of Love. As I said in my earlier blog, love is the expression of that faith moving.These friends loved the paralyzed man. Their love was shown in their willingness to work, sweat, serve, carry and remove the roof to get him to Jesus. We often say we have love for others but we are not willing to step out of our own driveways to do anything for someone else. We say we are “friends” and yet we never make any kind of sacrifice or allow our lives to be interrupted for the sake of helping or seeing someone come to Jesus and experience healing. Real, true Love will always cost us something. If you call yourself a friend of sinners, what price have you been paying to demonstrate your love? Friends love at all times at all costs.
3) A Friend of Determination. Friends don’t give up on you. They don’t let you stop short of the goal! They are not only personally invested and involved but they are doggedly determined to finish out faith! There are always gonna be obstacles and problems that require more faith, more planning, more friends to overcome. That’s what these men show me. Upon their arrival to have their friend healed by Jesus, they were not able to get him up to the front. Common people would have probably settled for the attempt. These men were not common friends though! They would not be stopped! They would not be deterred. They were determined…and because they were, their friend was healed. Real friends find alternatives and solutions….they even create future opportunities for success.
4) A Friend of Responsibility. These men did not shift their responsibility to the man’s family for his care or getting him to Jesus. They assumed that responsibility themselves. As Christians sometimes we try to shift our responsibility to other people, organizations etc. claiming we have done “our part”. All the while there is so much more to do and people who need help. And we call ourselves a “Friend of God”? For this to be true, we must take up our crosses and follow Christ into the world where people desperately need real friends, real love, a real Jesus! It may not be our fault that people are in the plight they find themselves, but how can we not be part of God’s movement to bring healing and peace? If we are to be a Friend of God, we must be friends who take up the responsibility of friendship. The word “responsibility” itself means: ability to respond. Many in the world are unable to respond to God or experience His love because we have failed to respond to His call on our own lives. Be responsible. Be a friend!