Values of a LIFE community 2: Walk with me
I’m amazed by how the ‘Jesus of the African society’ has become such a personal and intimate matter. I especially love the way our grand mothers and fathers who have known the Lord for many years see a different Jesus from the way my generation sees Him. While for many in my generation, Jesus is still an idea to believe in, a personality spoken about in Christian circles or a form of power to be studied and searched for to enjoy life, Jesus remains an ideology for many in my generation.
but for our older folks- Jesus is simply a friend. As they have gone through life, times and seasons have happened and as they have matured, some may not even have the right theology but wait till you here them pray, (……..) It’s like Jesus is right there physically and I envy that. When our grandparents pray- its like Jesus right there, …..but when I pray we sometimes, fumble over looking for the right words, right formulae to get just the attention I need from God.
This week has been a reflective week for me, we all go through seasons and times in our lives that are sometimes difficult to understand, or grasp or even make sense. We go through seasons when we simply can’t figure it out no matter how hard you try. We get into seasons of doubt, sorrow, disappointment, conflict and even confusion and anxiety.
Sadly, the world has taught us to avoid these things, we live everyday working hard to stay out of what must happen to all of us, so when they happen we ask why me and what do I need to do to get out, but sometimes we simply need a friend. A friend who says I don’t know why, I don’t know what to do but I will be here for you. I will walk with you.
But where do we find such friends today? Who will give their time and resources to hear my miseries, everyone is simply busy, everyone has their own problems, so again the world gives us advice on how to make it or make it.
Be confident in yourself, Ji- sort. Infact the world admires those who can Ji-sort, those who are self confident. The world teaches us self reliance- take care of yourself, minimize your risks, know just enough people to get you there, conversations and appointments need to be short and to the point, If there is nothing for you walk away, don’t tell your problems no one cares, no one will listen and the rest have more problems than you.
Our society is leaking with these kinds of people, we hear it every morning in our radios, as people try to reach out for hearing, will anyone listen, and can classic FM help me. Our society is crying out for a friend, a real friend.
Last week we began a new series on values of a LIFE community, Even as we emphasize on our theme this year on renewing LIFE communities, we slowed down as a community and emphasized that as a LIFE community we must Value and treasure God’s word for our sustenance, because God’s word is LIFE. We must not be casual with God’s word instead it must become a sacred engagement that defines this community. I continue to invite you for our bible study service.
Today I will look at the value of Friendship, as we renew our LIFE communities, Turn again with me to our LIFE community Album and we continue to read from John 1: 35-51
In this passage, Jesus begins to gather and build a team of those who would later be known as his disciples. The word disciple simply meant pupil or student coming from Greek (mathetai) which means to learn. It was early tradition that great leaders, teachers or influencers of society would have followers as a way of teaching and instruction and passing on their values. The teacher known as Rabbi would be walking and teaching the whole day and interacting with his disciples on particular subjects including philosophy and other things. Aristotle, John and even Plato had disciples; it was the earliest forms of education.
However raw and varied they came, not sure what to expect, the first two (It is assumed that the author- John was one of the two and the other Andrew) already had a strong recommendation from their former Rabbi- John the Baptist. As soon as John mentioned “look the lamb of God”, they knew this is the one John had taught them about and quickly left to follow him.
The term ‘lamb of God’ although only mentioned twice in the NT was already a term familiar to the Jewish community which these two disciples came from, it simply meant “the promised one, God’s provision for the salvation of the world”.
As the two came to Jesus they identified him as Rabbi- Teacher, but unlike other rabbis Jesus wanted to make them not just students but believers. The question ‘what do you want?” was a searching question on why they wanted to follow Jesus? How would you answer that question?,
Feels like an open blank check Kind of question, they could have said or asked for many things, but from their answer “Where are you staying?” they wanted to know Jesus more. They would soon learn that Jesus was no ordinary Rabbi, The reply was simply come and you will see where he was staying and they spent the rest of the day with him.
A relationship had begun, and Andrew one of the two seemed so excited and almost immediately went to his brother Simon and simply told him “we have found the messiah”, and He brought Him to Jesus. Now this was another strong recommendation coming from a trusted brother to another. We don’t know how much Andrew had known about Jesus, it doesn’t sound like much, but it was exciting enough to recommend Jesus to another person that mattered to him, his brother.
When Simon came over, Jesus looked at him- (intently) and called him out a new name, Peter. This was Peter’s first personal experience with Jesus- He would later say ‘The one who I met the first time and gave me a new name’ a name he may not have understood its meaning fully but a name that he would later realize was God’s plan for him and the future of his kingdom.
The next day, Jesus on his way to Galilee, found Philip and simply said ‘follow me’. I imagine it must have been surprising for the other new disciples; at least they had some recommendation to follow Jesus. But Philip was just a normal, simple guy from Bethsaida on the road minding his own business and Jesus simply says to him…follow me. It does not indicate whether he had received any recommendation. But He followed. His excitement to recommend Jesus to another disciple Nathanael reveals his personal encounter with Jesus to identify him as the Messiah, whom the prophets talked about.
Nathanael on the other hand was an intellectual Israelite who seemed to know history about his home- town and kinsmen. As he thought, Nazareth did not appear to be a prominent town in the history of Israel. He asked if anything had ever been so great about a small town like Nazareth, but Philip’s response was not an argument of facts and history but simply ‘come and see.’ Jesus then confirmed his questions by creating another personal experience- He would later say- When I Met Jesus the first time- He knew me so well and knew my thoughts before I even spoke them out.
How would these disciples tell you about how they met Jesus- Well Andrew would say ‘John our rabbi pointed this man Jesus to us and He seemed so important to our Rabbi and when we came to him, he did not chase us away but invited us to his home and spend the day with him and something begun to happen from that day. Peter would say my brother came to me with excitement to tell me about a guy he had met, I went to see but then when He called me out, I felt like he knew me and had a plan for me. Philip would say well I was minding my business, nothing dramatic, normal day, but I see this man Jesus walking to me and as if recruiting an army of soldiers, he seemed to see something so important in me and simply said follow me. Nathanael would say “well Philip came to me and told me he had found the one Moses spoke about it sounded so ridiculous especially when he said that Jesus was from Nazareth but before I even talked to Jesus, it’s like he knew from a long time ago, like he had been watching my every move and knew all my thoughts…the rest is history.
Today I suggest to you that as we renew our LIFE Communities the first value we talked about Last week was God’s word. The second value that we must have as a LIFE community is the value of True Friendship. I will use this term generally to mean any kind of kinship that can exist between individual beings. Real Friends are those who bring us closer and point us to walk with Jesus. Real friends who allow the ‘Jesus’ in them to walk with us.
My first point is this as we renew our community this year
Friendship is a key ingredient to following Jesus. Jesus invites us to friendship with Him.
How did Jesus make disciples, He began by making friends with these normal everyday people. He could have chosen to go to the wise and discerning in the synagogue or the temple and announce his deity and power. But he chose the everyday people. Jesus befriends anyone. These friends had not yet walked on water, calmed the storm, seen the dead raised, they had not fed 5000 and had no clue about the great things that their journey would be, they simply had a personal encounter with Jesus, not a miracle worker, not a healer but simply a friend. A friend, who knew them so well. Even later on in the journey, they did not sit for a class or theological seminars but simply walked with Jesus as his friends. Jesus was inviting them into a relationship, a friendship that would later change them from students to believers.
But what makes our convictions sometimes so shallow today, is because many of us were introduced to Christ as religion or set of rules, and for a long time have followed him as a teacher and have not experienced the friend He is. We were introduced to Him, in fearsome and even technical ways.
While the world needs this friend,(behind the noise and laughter of those who call Maina Kageni lies the broken and hurt, curious and empty people who simply need to meet Jesus their friend. But even many Christians still live in fear of worries and every day cares because we have not known Jesus as a friend and in the same way we have not been effective in discipleship and reaching out, because we preach a Jesus whom we don’t know or a Jesus in the books or a Jesus who is a religion. We preach the Jesus judge, the miracle worker, but how different would it be if we preached Jesus the friend.
• The difference between discipleship and education is seen in the result-belief. I can learn a lot about something but not believe. To believe is more than just knowing about something but allowing the substance of what you know to live in you to become it. To believe is starts by accepting the knowledge with your mind, loving with your heart and soul, and committing with your will and spirit. Christianity is not just something we believe but must result in something we live. This was God’s intention for the Gospel, to be- Lived. Jesus in us. The product of his friendship.
• Our faith in Him grows gradually the deeper we engage in His friendship, the more we walk with him. Like the disciples, Jesus knows us so well, our worries and anxious thoughts, our backgrounds and history and sometimes while we ask why me, or how soon can I get out of this situation, or Jesus what’s the secret to enjoying life, or why am I still in this situation, He simply says walk with me, because the answer is not always a secret, a power, a solution or even a formulae but the comfort that he gives when He says to us ‘How can I walk with you through this situation.’
• Like the disciples, when we walk with him long enough, like peter, Andrew and philip we discover the dreams he has for us, the new name he has given us, a different way of seeing things a new life and purpose. Like Nathanael we drop our human limited biases and ways of small life thinking and we discover BIG LIFE.
2. My second point is this as LIFE community we must exercise this Friendship through the Jesus who lives in us to others.
As Jesus demonstrated to us, the window to believe is through friendship. But the problem why there is so little belief is because we lack the friends or role models who will walk with us as Jesus would. Friends who will not judge us, scare us but those who will demonstrate or point Jesus to us, the ones who will open their doors and spend time with us, those who will call greatness out of us, those who will accept us despite our futile ways of thinking.
How different would it be if as a community we decided to be friends of Jesus to one another? We need to come to the place we refuse the wisdom of self reliance and confidence and become vulnerable to one another. When we stop our independent limited and often selfish ways of following Jesus and walk to another and say to him “I see Jesus in you, please will you walk with me in this area”When we drop the world’s advice of self confidence and afford quality time to reach out to one another and walk with them.
One of the greatest blessings in my life recently was when I admitted to myself that I don’t know it all, I don’t understand it fully and I can’t do it all alone and was over-joyed when Larry Niemeyer alongside other men of God agreed to walk with me as a leader.I have enjoyed great insights from our mentorship/discipleship relationship.
As a LIFE community we need to reach out to one to another, men break away from egos and personal pursuits and reach out to another struggling father, confused brother, and say to him “Let me walk with you over the next few months on this issue, you can count on the Jesus in me” that I will walk with you.
Can we agree as families, to reach out to other families that are struggling, breaking apart, or experiencing difficulty and say to them because of the Jesus we have known in our marriage, you can count on Him, that we will walk with you.
Mothers and ladies fathers and sons, seeing young ladies confused over life’s tough choices, and decisions, can you make some time, invite them over to your house every Saturday, Friday for a chat and say to them “because of the Jesus I’ve known in my many years of life, you can count on him that I will walk with you”
Prayer for deeper walk with the Lord as friend,
Prayer for the wounded and hurt to experience friendship
Prayer for commitment to walk with someone.
Values of a LIFE community 2: Walk with me