Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 27-28, 2024
“AM I A FRIEND OF GOD?” – 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
Rev. Kelly Crabbe – Ascension Lutheran Church – Littleton, CO
If you needed open heart surgery, and there were two people available to do the procedure, one who was the foremost expert on the human heart and had written books about it, and the other person had actually performed a lot of successful heart surgeries, which one would you choose to operate on you — the book writer or the surgeon? I think the answer is obvious. To simply know ABOUT things is so different than DOING those things.
There’s a story I really like about a father asking his son to clean his room before they were going to have company the next day. The dad checked with his son the next morning whether his son had gotten his room cleaned. The son said, “Dad, you can be so proud of me. I had a couple of friends over last night and we all looked up the word for “CLEAN” in the Bible in the original Greek. Then we did a word study on it, we discussed it, and we even memorized a Bible verse about the importance of being clean.” His dad then asked him, “Did you clean your room?” and the son said with kind of an edge in his voice, “Dad, are you kidding? Do you know how long it took to do all that study? How can you expect me to have the time to also clean my room?!” Knowing about something and actually doing it are two very different things.
In the three verses of our text the word KNOW in some form is used 7 times, and it’s used to contrast how different it is to simply know about God versus actually loving God, and so that is our focus today.
What do you know about God? What do you know about His nature, His attributes, how He interacts with humanity, etc? I feel certain you and I could list quite a bit about all of that. We might share things like, God is eternal; He’s all-powerful; He’s creative; He’s merciful; He’s Triune. And if someone said, “Where do you get that TRIUNE idea,” we might talk about verses such as Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” explaining about the Hebrew in that verse, how the word for ONE used here is not the regular word for one, but a word that describes unity or oneness, but in a plurality. The word is EKADTH, the word you use when you’re describing a bunch of grapes, a single bunch made of several grapes. In Deuteronomy it’s describing God, and it means He is ONE GOD in THREE PERSONS, just as He refers to Himself as Elohim, a plural word but meaning ONE GOD. The truth is, we can know a lot of things ABOUT God, but it says in James 2:19, “You believe that God is one, good, but even the demons believe that, and they shudder.” So, knowing ABOUT God is good. Having knowledge about Him is helpful, but it’s not where we need to be. It doesn’t get us where we need to go.
How about having God as an acquaintance? Is that enough? Let me ask you this. How many passing acquaintances do you have, someone that you know their name and you say hello to each other, but that’s about it? That’s a very surface connection. They would never be a person you’d call when you needed help. You wouldn’t know whether you could trust them or not. That’s not where we want to be with God. Do you want more, more than just knowing God’s name and saying “Hey” occasionally? Then what’s the MORE that He wants you to have?
In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” And then in verse 15 He shares something that truly thrills me. He said, “I have called you friends.” What does it mean when you have a friend? What does it look like to have a true friend? Here’s how I would describe it.
True friends know and understand each other. They have shared interests.
They love spending time together. They help each other and protect each other, even when that means confronting one another when we’re heading in the wrong direction. And all of this is in an ongoing relationship, as Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times.”
Having true friends is so important. We know we’ve got someone to lean on, to enjoy life with, to cry and hurt with. We can be our true selves with them. We all know even true friends let us down. But with God you’ve got a best Friend who will never let you down. He really did give His life in place of yours. He doesn’t just know about friendship, or describe it, He DOES it. He truly does supply all your needs. And oh, how He loves you. When I served as a Pastor and I’d go through pre-marital sessions with a couple getting ready for marriage, I asked a lot of questions. One of those questions is: “What are this person’s flaws; and how do you deal with them?” God sees all your flaws, even the secret ones, and He dealt with them when He went to the cross. He knows you’ve got them, but His love doesn’t waver, and it won’t. That’s why He’s your best Friend. Are you His? What are some ways you can show your friendship for Him?
+ Tell Him how you feel about Him, PRAYER & PRAISE.
+ Read His letters to you, the BIBLE.
+ Love Him by doing what He asks. (John 14:15)
+ Love those around you, just as you are loved by Him. (John 13:34)
There was a woman who walked around her neighborhood and saw how many people had given up. People were isolating themselves because they had lost trust in the system, and also in each other. Knowing this she decided to do something about it. She invited some of her neighbors to share a meal together. She prepared a beautiful meal and they sat around the table together. But they shared more than food. They shared their pains and struggles and found out how much they had in common. Not everyone who had been invited came, which made her sad, because she wanted everyone to be filled up with good things – not despair and hopelessness – but with food and compassion and friendship.
That’s Jesus’ desire for all of us. He invites us to His table to receive not just bread and wine, body and blood, but also mercy and forgiveness. When you come to eat with Jesus, may your focus be not only on what you receive in your hand, but even more on the love He offers your heart. We all suffer from the pain of our sins. We have a lot in common. May we all have our Savior Jesus in common too.
Do you know things about God? Good. Do you also know Him and love Him and that He loves you? Great! Because He loves you enough to die for you and pay for all your sins!!! He’s your best Friend. In Jesus’ name, amen.