Yes, it is!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Today's Sermon on Friendship

My pastor started a series on the Purpose of the Church. It's only been in the last week that I have really begun to enjoy and pay attention in church.  And even more so this week.  Today's sermon struck a chord in me and I couldn't help but wonder if the pastor's wife (who has been helping me get back on track) talked to her pastor husband about our conversations.  One of the topics that Mary Lynne and I have talked about is friendship in church. For some time, I have never felt very accepted by church people.  Yeah, they can be friendly but nobody went out of their way to be real friends with me and my family. It seemed everyone had their quota of friends and there was no more room for us.  It got to where if somebody did try to really get to know me, I became suspicious of their motivation.  I don't know why I got to that point.  I really, really missed my friends back home in Florida. They loved me for me and we had so much fun whenever we got together.
I remember soon after we moved here, I did make friends with another Samantha.  It helped that Jackie was a newborn and Sam loved my baby.  We became good friends until she moved away with her husband.  Sometime after Sam moved away, another person reached out to me and since then, Lisa and I have become the best of friends.  I had other friends but nobody that I really did anything with.  Others told me that we were just quiet.  Are quiet people not worthy of having friends? 
A little over a year ago, I joined the gym.  I didn't expect to make any friends there.  I joined to get back into shape and feel better about myself physically.  But I started to make some good friends.  I was liked and accepted.  I really began to feel at home at the gym.  We were all there for one purpose (well, most of us) and that was to get into and stay in shape.  And the encouragement from each other was a bonus.  I'm not the most outgoing person but at the gym, I felt like I was in my element and I started to become outgoing.  Since joining the gym, I have met some wonderful, nonjudgmental friends. I would rather be at the gym than at church. 
But these past weeks, I have made some changes. I've been trying to read the Bible again, trying to pray again.  I've been enjoying church and I'm trying to let my guard down some so that I can be a friend to others.  Today's sermon was so fitting.  It was perfect and I hope it struck a nerve with others at church, too.  Here is a sort of outline of today's sermon:
*The three F's of the church's purpose: Friendship, Fellowship, and Forgiveness.
    *Friendship with God and others. (A friend sticks closer than a brother. Prov 18:24 & John 15:13)
    *Fellowship - living in community together
         - this means sharing your life, sharing your needs, giving of yourself
    * Forgiveness - the pastor stated that this was probably the most difficult and for many of us, it is very
       difficult to forgive those who have hurt us deeply. We are to forgive now matter how wronged we feel.  I
       remember years ago hearing a different definition for forgiveness.  It went like this:  Forgiveness is giving
       up my right to hurt you for hurting me.
       Most of us know what the Bible says about forgiveness and how it talks about how God forgives us.  I
       have a difficult time trying to fathom how God can forgive me for some of the stuff I have done knowing
       all too well that at the time that I was very wrong.
I like what the pastor said about leaving room for friends.  He reminded us to leave room in our groups of friends for more friends.  And to keep the groups open.   Too bad many of us don't practice this.  I can speak from experience that this is one reason a lot of people don't like church. 
I also like the conclusion on the church notes and I can only hope that I and so many others take it to heart and practice it.  Here it is:  The church is many things.  It is a place of worship and spiritual growth.  It is a place of LOVE - you find it here, you give it away everywhere.  It is a safe place, ACCEPTING place, and a refuge.  And most important it is GOD'S place, and it is an HONOR to be a part of God's church.
Thank you Pastor Bryan Webb for today's sermon.  I thought you were speaking directly to me at certain times.  I can only hope others felt the same.
My apologies if this post seemed to make less sense than usual. Thanks to my children who were in constant need this time.

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