Episode 1. We're Created in Community
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
Whether we’re one of those people who loves being around lots of people, or perhaps whether we’re more of a loner – we all need friends. That’s because we’ve been created to be part of a …
Whether you’re one of those people who loves being around lots of other people, or perhaps you’re more of a loner – the truth is that we all need friends. That’s because we’ve been created to be part of a community. But sadly these days, we find all sorts of reasons to opt out of friendship. Too busy, too tired, hurt once too often …
Hey it’s always so exciting to kick off a new week and in fact this week a new series of messages all about friendship. It’s why I’ve called this series, “A Friend In Need Is A Friend Indeed”. It’s a saying that most of us have heard many times before and it’s so true. There are some people who right now are living their lives out without a friend in the world or so it seems to them right now.
Sometimes that happens because we isolate ourselves, sometimes it happens because, well for a whole bunch of reasons that are completely outside our control and sometimes, sometimes we’re just not sure why it’s happening but we feel so desperately alone.
Well over these next few weeks we’re going to explore this whole thing about friendship because whether we realise it or not we are made to have friends, we’re made to be part of a community, part of a family. We’re made to connect with people who are our friends and there’s a reason for that, it’s not just a quirk of fate as the primeval slime evolved over eons to become thee and me. No, no! That’s stretching the imagination just a bit too far.
The reason we’re made to connect with other people is that that’s exactly what Gods like and you and I, the thing that makes us different from any other creature or species alive is this: you and I are made in the image of God.
And as it turns out that’s the whole reason that we’re meant to be in close relationship at least with a few other people. It’s always blown me away how the first few words of the first verse of the first Book of the Bible must have puzzled people way back when it was written. Genesis chapter 1, verse 1 starts out:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Well hang on, lets just pair that back a little:
In the beginning God.
Before everything and everyone was God. Now most of the Old Testament is written in the Hebrew language and this verse certainly is and the word that we translate here as God is the strangest word, it’s the word “Elohim” which literally means in the Hebrew language ‘Gods’ plural. In the beginning Gods is actually what it says and what it said to them thousands of years ago when it was written and what it still says to the Jewish nation today.
In the beginning “God’s” and just a few verses down when God tells us how He created us, this is what He says. Genesis chapter 1 beginning at verse 26:
Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, over all creatures that move along the ground’. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.
Now did you pick that up? God says, “Let us make humankind in our own image”, “us”. Back in those days just about every nation had its gods. They were what we call polytheistic which means they all believed in many gods a bit like Hinduism today. But Israel, Israel believed in just one God, they were monotheistic and in this they were absolutely unique. Have a listen Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4:
Hear O Israel the Lord our God the Lord is one.
And so this one God who declares Himself from the beginning to be more than one turns out as we later discover is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in one perfect relationship we call God. Three persons in one God which is the mystery of what we today call the Holy Trinity.
So from the beginning God is a God of relationship and community and we, you and I and every other homosapian who has ever trodden this earth are made in the image of God and how did God make us in His image? Well male and female He created us. He made us to be companions, to have friends, to have close relationships for this reason because this is one of the key aspects of what it means to be made in God’s image.
Now as you and I look at ourselves in the mirror we realise we’re made to have friends not withstanding the fact that we’re all really quite different. I mean my daughter Melissa and I couldn’t be more different as people. We both exercise in the morning; I do it by going for a brisk ten kilometre walk on my own. Now I’ve done exercise with other people when I was in the army and I hated it. I love exercising completely on my own.
Melissa on the other hand she joins a group of twenty or so people in the park under a trainer and they exercise together. For her, she simply wouldn’t get out there of a morning if there weren’t other people to be with. See how different we are and yet even I at the end of the spectrum where I really enjoy my own company at that extreme if I can put it that way, I need close relationships, I need friends, my wonderful long suffering wife and a few good friends.
They say that no man is an island and it’s true of women too, none of us is meant to travel through life on our own. Yeah sure there are times people desert us, that even happened to Jesus when He was arrested and tried and crucified, all His friends left Him. It happens sadly sometimes to each of us but that’s not the norm, that’s not how it’s meant to be for most of our lives because that quite simply is not the way we’ve been created in God’s image remember, we’ve been created in God’s image, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, this God of perfect relationship and perfect unity, we’ve been created to have friends.
And so in kicking off our chats about friendship and relationship I guess I’m hoping that you and I will examine our own lives, come on honestly, who are our close friends? Do we really share our souls with them? Or have we built up protective walls to hide behind, walls that protect us from getting hurt, walls that shield us from accountability, walls that saves us the pain and the expense of feeling someone else’s pain and sacrificing for them or quite simply the walls that have grown up all by themselves because, well we’re so busy racing around to earn money, to pay the mortgage on a house that’s way too big and pay for possessions that are way more than we really need?
Come on, let’s get real here, what are we sacrificing our friendships for? God made you and me in His image, to be in this thing called community, to have friends and deep and meaningful and rich and rewarding and painful and sacrificial relationships and one of the most profound turning points of my life as someone who doesn’t need quite as many relationships in his life as perhaps others do was the realisation that until you enter into such relationships, until we start serving our friends with a gift and the abilities and the resources we have and until we see the impact on their lives through our service there can quite simply be no sense of satisfaction or fulfilment or contentment in our lives.
Why? Because it was for this purpose that Gods made us: to love Him, to honour Him, to glorify Him, to love the Lord our God with all our soul, our heart, our mind and our strength. That’s the first and greatest commandment and secondly to love our neighbours as ourselves. That’s it, that’s what life is all about and to the extent that we turn away from relationships, of true friendship with God and with other people, it’s to that same extent that we miss out on life, real life, the rich and abundant life, the sort of life that Jesus came to purchase for you and for me on that cross. I mean you’ve got to ask, what’s the matter with us?