Yesterday I began a message that is especially dear to my heart. I began discussing how we so desperately need to have someone, or a very small group of friends, with whom we can knit our hearts together. We were looking specifically at the relationship between Jonathan and David as examples of this kind of friendship.
But I received some emails asking how many people it can be? I have no idea. I don’t know what your capacity for loving is. Paul knit his heart together with many people. In Colossians when he prayed that Christians would be knit together in love, because he had experienced it. Everywhere he went he had a young brother with him. As he wrote to this church and that place, he told how dearly he loved them; how Epaphroditus was willing to lay down his life for him and Timothy encouraged him in the Lord. The Body of Christ today must be knit together in the same way.
Wherever we are, we can be close to some other believers—some with whom we naturally knit our hearts with; some we have so committed ourselves to, they are ours and we are theirs. Shakespeare‟s Hamlet spoke of them by encouraging us to”grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel!”
While Jesus was walking in our flesh, he had three very special friends. Then He had the twelve. He poured himself and devoted his time into them. Then he had the seventy who he trained and sent out. Then there were a hundred and twenty. He loved all of them. Yet, he was particularly woven into the fabric of the lives of three who were very special.
Today of course, Jesus is risen, ascended, and is no longer limited physically or geographically. Now he can say to each of us, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I will be with you always.” The miracle of the resurrected, omnipresent One is that He is knit to us as the closest friend of all. As bone is knit to bone, so is the Head perfectly fused to the body.
But the way we learn to express our love for the Head is the way we learn to express our love for somebody who is flesh and blood, with all the nitty-gritty working-out of love that that involves. As someone once wrote: “To live above with saints we love, O Lord, that will be glory. To live below with saints we know, well, that’s another story!”
So many times we want to put the working of our faith and the living out of our Christianity on an ethereal level. The problem is, our lives are lived on a very practical, down to earth, everyday existence. Daily dealing with our jobs, the children, paying bills, mowing lawns, buying groceries, living with our spouse, etc., etc., etc. Our lives are very practical.
Get your eyes off the worldwide missionary crusades and national Healing Campaigns and start living as good workers in your jobs, raising respectful, obedient children, as loving husbands or wives. Live out your lives in the respect and quiet obedience to our God.
Jonathan and David’s friendship wasn’t some ethereal, pink cloud of emotion. It began with a verbal agreement: “Jonathan made a covenant — a pledge of mutual loyalty — with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David along with his armor and even his sword and his bow and his girdle” (I Samuel 18:3-4)
Realize what Jonathan is doing here. Jonathan’s father, Saul, was King of Israel. By all natural understanding and expectations, Jonathan was the heir to the throne. David was his subject. Nevertheless, Jonathan loved him so much that he took off his special robe and gave it to David. He took off his belt in which he had his wealth, and he gave that to David. In doing all this, he is saying, “All I have is yours, David. Everything I have.”
Have you ever said that to anybody (other than your spouse), “Everything I have is yours”? It is easy to be a loner, to protect yourself for yourself. There are all kinds of evangelical Lone Rangers out there. Of course, they love Jesus, but they don’t love His Church too much. They cling to the adage, “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand.” That is incongruous, and it is sin. Real fellowship calls for a gutsy commitment.
Let me show you an exquisite scene concerning this friendship of Jonathan and David. David was forced to hide from Saul because Saul was seeking to kill him. Jonathan and David met alone so Saul would not find him, and Jonathan told David, “Go in peace. We have promised by the Lord” [Now listen to this], “that we will be friends. We said, ‘The Lord will be a witness between you and me.'”
They were bound together in God. The Lord was the cohesive factor. Call it Holy Ghost Glue if you like, but it goes even deeper than that. Their commitment went “between our descendants forever.” They not only bound their lives together, but they bound the lives of their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and children beyond that. I can’t think of anything more profound and binding than that.
Then we see the last time that these two friends will ever meet. They don’t know it, but very soon, Jonathan is going to be killed in battle.
“David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph. He was afraid because Saul was coming to kill him. But Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh. He helped David have stronger faith in God” (I Samuel 23:15,16)
One translation says it a little better,
“(Jonathan) . . . strengthened his (David’s) hand in God”
Isn’t that great? How many times has Lyle strengthened my hand in God? Or I, his? How about you, have you found yourself strengthening the hand of someone close to you? There is such joy in being able to do that for a friend. I have had the joy of making several friends on Facebook—some I treasure deeply. Many times I have sought to strengthen their hand in God—and they have done the same for me.
As I said above, when my wife was in surgery for cancer, I called my Pastor and a couple of friends, asking for them to pray for Patrice, and they said they would, but when I called Lyle, he didn’t say he would pray for her . . . he simply said, “Let‟s pray . . .” My Pastor didn’t do that! My other friends didn’t do that! But Lyle did!
I have a simple philosophy: When someone asks me to pray, I figure, why wait? Right now is a perfect time to pray . . . I remember recently praying for the daughter of a friend while standing by the shopping carts in a store. Did people look? Probably. But it didn’t affect the prayers any.
Let’s talk some more about this tomorrow. We will see how far this friendship of Jonathan and David goes. I think you will be impressed.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.