If you’ve been in the church for a while, no doubt you’ve heard a lot about Jesus as Savior, Lord, King, and Teacher. All these glorious truths are essential and should be held up. But there is a core reality of who Jesus is that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. There is a benefit to the gospel and believing in Jesus even deeper than forgiveness. There is a key truth motivating our walk with Christ just as important as viewing Jesus as our Lord. And this wonderful biblical truth is that Jesus is our friend.
Sometimes, when walking around in my yard or living room, I sense I’m being followed. And I am, by my toddler.
In every church I’ve been at, as I meet believers from other churches, and as I interact with people in my city (and sometimes overhear conversations), I often hear a similar line of thinking from people who feel like they aren’t growing in their church. They might be involved, but they express discouragement and disappointment because they walk away each week not feeling like real growth and life-change are taking place.
After rising earlier in the morning than we want, identity questions invade our mind as we look in the mirror, think about the upcoming day, and decide what to wear. Do I want my clothes to be the casual me, the dressed-up me, the outdoorsy me, the stylish me, or the “life beat me down so I didn’t care” me? We don’t realize we’re thinking in terms of identity, but the questions of “Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do others view me?” shape us all day long.
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
“And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” (Exodus 13:14)
“There is power in telling our story to our children. At the earliest age, our children can begin to hear parts of our story and to be eyewitnesses to how God is continuing to shape it. I love to tell my children aspects of my own faith story in the context of the age they are at that time.” Michelle Anthony in Spiritual Parenting
Don’t get confused by the title. I’m not another millennial ditching personal growth or holiness in the name of authenticity or liberties. In this post, I won’t be arguing to stop pursuing sanctification (maturity or growth), but I will argue for understanding how the most important part of it has already happened.
“The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us” (John Piper)
Life shakes us up. It smacks us with wind and waves. It might be a trial, suffering, a personal temptation, dealing with guilt and shame, struggling with something like anxiety or fear, or the discouraging howls of an extended spiritual wilderness. When these storms blow hard, what keeps us upright? What sustains and steadies us?
In a sermon this morning, I shared one of my favorite quotes from Jared Wilson’s Imperfect Disciple. Jared is one of my favorite authors today, and in my opinion, this is his best book yet. Below is a short summary from my Amazon review, followed by a few of my favorite quotes to entice you to sneak this into your Christmas list.
Erik Raymond has become one of my favorite authors, and not just because of his love for Boston and its sports teams. I regularly visit Erik’s site at The Gospel Coalition: Ordinary Pastor. He writes with a pastor’s love of the Word and love of people. You can always bank on his words being Christ-centered, and therefore, full of the life-giving grace of Jesus. Like Jared Wilson, Raymond uses a very readable, conversational, sometimes humorous tone to find new ways to drive the same old gospel into the heart.
“Look, prayer is spilling your guts. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be tidy. It doesn’t have to be particularly eloquent or even particularly intelligent. But the Bible is how God speaks to us and prayer is how we speak to God. These two rhythms form the dynamic of our friendship with the God of the universe. You can’t be good friends with someone you don’t listen to, and you can’t be good friends with someone you don’t talk to. So we go about our personal devotions by studying the Bible to hear what God would say to us and then praying to God that he would forgive us for our hard-heartedness against his Word and empower us to understand it better and make it resonate more deeply in our hearts. Spilling our guts in prayer is how we process God’s words to us. Prayer is how we interact with our friend Jesus.” Jared Wilson