Sermon delivered November 9, 1996

by Matt Spears, 6th grader from Spalding Elementary School

assisted by Douglas Bennett of Collegedale, TN

McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

Building a Bridge of Eternal Friendship

You'll have to forgive me.. I'm kind of nervous. My grandpa is here, and he helped my write this sermon.

A Little eight-year-old girl was carrying a little four-year-old boy in her arms. A man passing on the street said to the little girl, "Aren't you carrying a big burden?" The little girl looked up at the man and replied, "He's no burden, for he's my friend."

Friendship makes the difference between whether something is a task or a privilege. People who go to heaven will be friends, for they will share together throughout eternity. Jesus said, "I will not longer call you servants but friends." A friend is one who shares with another similar likes, goals, values and ideas. These common interests bond them together even though they may have been strangers.

Revelation 7:9 gives us a picture of the multitude of the redeemed who have formed a friendship with God and will share an eternal friendship with one another. We believe this bond of friendship must be on earth before the second coming. I'll tell you a story:

A girl named Janelle had an English assignment to write: a 200 word essay about her best friend. This put her in quite a pickle, you see, she had three friends that she'd known since kindergarten and they were very close. The more she thought about it the harder it became. Finally, she decided what to do, and the words seemed to race across her paper. The next day, when she got up in front to read her essay to the class, she started like this: "Jesus is my best friend...." Janelle knew enough to make her essay interesting.

    How do you get acquainted with one who really is your best friend? The same way you get better acquainted with someone you see and want to get to know.
  1. Go where he is likely to be. For instance: church.
  2. Talk with him, pray. Learn what he likes and what he doesn't like. Read the Bible.
  3. Listen to what he has to say. Think about him.
  4. Do nice things for him. Serve him.
  5. Invite him into your daily activities. Pray.
  6. Introduce him to your friends. Witness. And finally:
  7. Thank him for when he does something for you. Praise.

I'd like to say something about the eighth grade. They're more than half the choir When I first began in this group ("Choraliers") last year, I didn't know what to think about this group. I'd been in the children's choir which my mom had directed; she was probably the only reason I was in it. I always looked at this group as the higher level... the superior to the singing groups and choirs around the area. When I got into this group I only knew four people: Becky, Aaron, Bryan and Julie. I got in there and I kind of sat down and Mr. Lawrence had picked a seating chart. I noticed I was sitting right beside Bryan, not somebody I knew. So I went over and sat down beside Bryan and he started introducing me to some of his friends. That's when I realized this group was more than just a singing group. We don't just go out and sing in places, we like to go around and witness any way we can. And that's something special I'll always remember about this group.

One of the key elements to a true friendship is when someone does something extremely costly for another. All of us here today share in such a good deed. We're reminded of this reason, of such devotion from our best friends when we read Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." God was so concerned about our needs that He acted sacrificially for us. He left the courts of heavenly praise to be cradled in a manger among animals and to live among men who behaved like animals. Another little story I'd like to tell you...

The son of a sea captain stowed away on his father's ship for he longed to be with his father. A storm arose at sea and hole appeared in the bottom of the boat. The captain asked for a volunteer to go under and place an arm in the hole to save the rest of the crew. When the son noticed no one was volunteering, he stepped forward and said, "Daddy, I'll go." It took a while but the father finally let his son go. The crew never forgot the son's braveness and were ever grateful to the boy.

John 3:16 states: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." When we realize what heaven has done for us, we, too, respond with appreciation. We all share today in this sacrifice. This is the first basis of our commonly shared friendship.

There's a second element of friendship which binds us together. Paul states in 3:27-29. We're all members of the same family.

A three-year-old little girl had just been told she was adopted. But she showed no reaction one way or the other. Her mother was puzzled how to explain it to her better. The next day at church, the little girl watch as people responded to a call the minster made at the close of the service. She asked her mother, "What are they doing?" Her mother quickly replied, "God had offered to adopt them for His children, and they're taking Him up on it. Now they can live with Him forever in heaven and always know that He loves them with all His heart." The little girl nodded and watched in awe as the pastor prayed with each person. The next day, the mother overheard her little girl into the cocker spaniel's silky ear, "I just wanted you to know I'm adopting you 'cause God and mommy and daddy have adopted me and that way we can live together forever."

Our acceptance of Jesus puts us into the family of God. This should make us friends for we all share the equality of the kingdom of grace. No one has an advantage over another. God's presence is all around us. Heavenly praise is already beginning to reign in our hearts.

A third element of binding friendship is found in a common purpose for living. I'm told that when two people plan to get married they share a common goal. Amos 3:3 speaks of this: "Can two walk together unless they are agreed?" My grandfather told me that one of the things that made his marriage with my grandmother such a happy marriage was... well, beside her being his best friend... was, they had a common goal: a purpose. We as Seventh-day Adventists have a common purpose. It's stated in Revelation 14:6: "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on earth: to every nation, tribe, tongue and people." We share the desire to spread the Third Angel's message to the whole world. Jesus said in Matthew 24:4, " This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, then shall the end come." In showing appreciation to our greatest Friend let us bring the message of Jesus' love and His special message to all the world.

A final element that binds us together: We each realize our world is filled with tragedy and heart ache. Injustice is all about us. We each feel the pain or sorrow or trouble. We each share the desire for heaven: an new world where there will be no experience of disappointment of separation again. Last summer before leaving the United States for the choir's trip to the General Conference, my grandmother, whom I loved deeply, died. I miss her a lot, and I'm looking forward to meeting her in heaven. The Bible says, Revelation 21:5, "He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death nor mourning nor crying or pain." These words are faithful and true.

Today we've been talking about the basic elements of friendship. We have come here today to enlarge our friendship with those we've not known before.

    We can be friends because we share four common elements:
  1. We each have been purchased by a costly sacrifice from heaven .
  2. We're all part of the same family.
  3. The gospel commission: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel" is a purpose we share and makes it possible for us to be friends.
  4. Finally, we feel the hurts of life and long for a better life.

So let's bond into eternal friendship, now. Let us never forget what Jesus said in John 15:14, "You are My friends if you do what I command you.

(The Choraliers is a group of singers from the Spalding Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School. They have been featured at two General Conferences and have toured to many places. Douglas Bennett is a retired teacher and administrator of the Southern University religion department.

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