Friday, August 2, 2013

Friendship - with God and with people (Hebrews 10:19-20) including a Jesse Owens' story.

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 10:19-20 (TM)
So, friends, we can now - without hesitation - walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God.

David Wallechinsky shares this story: Berlin -- Jesse Owens seemed sure to win the long jump at the 1936 games. The year before he had jumped 26 feet, 8 1/4 inches -- a record that would stand for 25 years. As he walked to the long-jump pit, however, Owens saw a tall, blue eyed, blond German taking practice jumps in the 26-foot range. Owens felt nervous. He was acutely aware of the Nazis' desire to prove "Aryan superiority," especially over blacks. At this point, the tall German introduced himself as Luz Long. "You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed!" he said to Owens, referring to his two jumps. For the next few moments the black son of a sharecropper and the white model of Nazi manhood chatted. Then Long made a suggestion. Since the qualifying distance was only 23 feet, 5 1/2 inches, why not make a mark several inches before the takeoff board and jump from there, just to play it safe? Owens did and qualified easily. In the finals Owens set an Olympic record and earned the second of four golds. The first person to congratulate him was Luz Long -- in full view of Adolf Hitler. Owens never again saw Long, who was killed in World War II. "You could melt down all the medals and cups I have," Owens later wrote, "and they wouldn't be a platting on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Luz Long."
“Jesus has cleared the way” and we get to have a “first-name” friendship with God. Not a bad deal, but when we considering the cost to Jesus to make that happen it blows the mind and elevates the friendship with God to a much higher level.

Friendship, real friendship in the 21st Century is truly a rare commodity. On several occasions during the last week it has been mentioned more than once that to die with one true friendship is a great blessing. One? Just one? How rare is that?

C. Raymond Beran writes the following: What is a friend? Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meannesses and absurdities, and in opening them up to friends, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty. They understand. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse them, neglect them, tolerate them. Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter. They like you. They are like fire that purges to the bone. They understand. You can weep with them, sing with them, laugh with them, pray with them. Through it all--and underneath--they see, know, and love you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.
Maybe that is why “friends” are so rare. We have numerous acquaintances. We have individuals that we can go off and do stuff with. We have people we call “friends”, but are they someone with whom we would really dare to be our self? Probably not.

We are not that way even with God even though Jesus has opened up that possibility for us. In fact we play hide-n-seek with God, especially when we are less than we know we can be. We are all on a first name basis with God, but allowing him to see our naked soul? Now, that is a totally different matter. We don’t even like to see our naked soul ourselves. We will go to great length to gloss over the rough places or flat out deny the less than savory aspects of our personality. The words written by Mr. Beran could be directed to the relationship that we are asked to share with God and for that we have Jesus to thank.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Thank you for being our friend. Now, help us to be honest in our friendship.

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