A reflection on Ben Pilgreen’s sermon message ”You Can Have It All – Whoever”
Friendships are one of life’s greatest joys. Finding someone we can share our heart with — someone who understands and accepts us just the way we are is priceless. When we can have a deep friendship with someone from the opposite sex, it is a tremendous gift.
Good friends should know how much each person values the other. We make the mistake of demanding that many of our relationships be all or nothing romantically. Whether the person you are in love with ends up marrying you or not, you have had the joy of experiencing real love. Real love is rich, pure and self-sacrificing. To experience that kind of love with anybody is a priceless gift.
Agape love is self-sacrificing (1 Corinthians 13:5). Self-sacrificing is giving up romantic love in order to preserve the friendship so that I may continue to encourage and speak life to my good friend. And this is what I want them to see. See me dying. See me bearing fruit. Seeing my good friend bearing fruit. Two things become unmistakably clear. One, this is hard. And the other is that this is glorious.
My pathway to following Christ is through death. Do you see that? I will indeed bear much fruit — including my friend. But I will not and I cannot bear this fruit any way but through self sacrifice.
Jesus said, ”Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24)
If I leave the the path I’m on now and try to be seen by people who want a glimpse of Jesus, I will remain alone like a seed in a bag, not in the ground. And I will not get an opportunity to see how God will use me in my friend’s life. It is about treasuring Christ together. Of course, John 12:24 has a hundred applications to our lives — and this one I feel right now is painfully personal. But God is always doing more than one thing.
To die to self is to set aside what we want in this moment and focus instead on loving God with everything we’ve got and valuing others as highly as we value ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). This moves us away from self-centeredness and closer to becoming openhearted followers of Christ who care deeply for others. It’s much easier to pay attention to the concerns, interests and needs of people (Philippians 2:3-4) when our own interests no longer consume us.
As we die to self, we no longer try to get our own way or try to get people to look up to us. We stop offering unasked-for advice, as if in self-importance we think we always know better than others. We let go of trying to make a good impression on others. We find freedom from the self-focused life.
Evelyn Underhill describes: “We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.” Quite simply, when we die to self, we’re no longer obsessed with self.
I want to be the kind of lover of Jesus, the kind of hope’r in Jesus, that if following him means I lose everything, then it will make my day
This is how Scripture describes true love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Isn’t that awesome? This verse also describes how God loves us.
I am being prepared to follow Jesus on the road he has placed me on and I don’t have to be afraid of the unknown, because Jesus is already on the other side.
With this that in mind, with an earnest prayer that God would work wonders In my life and my friend’s faith journey this season.