Rejoicing in Christ’s Friendship by Roger Rohde -June 18

Rejoicing in Christ’s Friendship

Romans 5:6-11

The words of Paul preceding our text find him writing to Christians about having joy and hope in the midst of difficult times.  This makes the message found in our text relevant for us today.  None of us here is immune from heartache, pain, or sorrow.  As we live out our lives on earth, we have to deal with broken relationships, deteriorating health issues due to sickness or aging, and challenges within the home, at the workplace, in the world, and yes even in the church.  Life can be and often times is very challenging.  We don’t always handle these situations as God would have us to do.  We encounter situations and we know restless nights, irritability, impatience, physical problems, and the list can go on and on.  Yet, Paul in speaking to Christians in the midst of struggles speaks to them of dealing with these struggles with joy in their hearts because of Christ’s friendship.  What is it about Jesus’ friendship that can empower us to have joy in times of sadness and peace in times of turmoil?

It begins when we realize the depth of Christ’s love as He befriended us.

It is not unusual to hit it off with certain people.  In Scripture that is referred to as philia love.  It is a bond that we have with people that like the same things we do, have the same values, and live by the same principles.  Philia love is wonderful, but it is not an in-depth kind of love that is endures.  If people are only joined by philia love, they may be friends for a time, maybe many years, but if something happens upon which they disagree that relationship may be severed forever.  Philia love is always tied to what a person can get out of the relationship for himself.  It is self-serving in nature.

An enduring relationship is founded on agape love.  This is the love that Christ has for us as noted in our text.  He befriended us when we were not at all friendly to Him.  Notice exactly how our text describes us when Christ lovingly laid done His life for us on the cross.  We were helpless and ungodly.  We had nothing to offer Jesus that He should befriend us.  In fact, we were His enemies.  We did everything that worked against the very will and purposes of God.

Now some may say, “I know I was and am a sinner, but don’t go too far.  I’m not like other people who don’t go to church and use Sundays to sleep in.”  Maybe our lives are a bit more God-conscience than other people, but don’t forget that God does not call for us to be better than others.  He commands us: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven in perfect”           (Matthew 5:48).

Our love for God and our fellowman is anything but perfect.  Our act of forgiveness toward others is not near what God commands of us: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The love of Christ that befriends us is what can bring us joy and peace through whatever circumstances in life we are encountering.  The depth of Christ’s friendship is so deep that Paul presents a  question that in the Greek indicates that the answer is to be a positive one:  “God Who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32).  Of course He will.  If He loved us with His life when we were His enemies and gave up His life to pay for our sins, most certainly He will love and care for us now as we are His beloved friends.

Christ’s love has not only befriended us, but we are now His beloved children for all eternity.  We are sons and daughters of God.  We belong to Him as we “have been justified by His blood.”  Hence, we are saved to be with God eternally in heaven.

The concept presented here is of a verdict that has come down in a court of law.  It is God’s courtroom and God the Father declares us innocent of all sin through the blood Jesus poured out for us at Calvary.  The Bible tells us in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our transgressions from us.”  In Jeremiah 31:34, the Lord declares: “For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.”

To know that God the Father has declared us to be His forgiven and redeemed children through Christ’s death and resurrection frees us from the burden or our sins and living in fear that God is going to punish us every time we sin.  To be sure, God does disciple Hi children, but disciple administered in love is far different than being punished under the righteous wrath of God.

What Christ’s friendship offers us can be seen on this Father’s Day in the life of a father whose earthly life was coming to an end.  His children had gathered around his bedside and were singing some hymns of comfort.  Suddenly the father stretched out his arms and said, “The Lord is calling me now.  He is calling me.  I am going home.”  With those words the father passed away.  The Lord had befriended him in his earthly life with goodness, mercy, love and forgiveness.  In the end his Friend, Jesus, called him to the kingdom that had prepared for him and all who would ever believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

God wants us to rejoice today and every day.  We have been befriended by Christ with His amazing love and as Paul tells us: “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  Let us then rejoice in Christ’s friendship always.  Amen.

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