Sunday, July 29, 2018
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 16
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
“You’ve Got a Friend!”
Walter Scott always attended the first worship service of McMurray, Pennsylvania’s Center Presbyterian Church over 20 years ago.
Just like our first service on the corner of Lincoln and Main, I did my singing nun thing because I like to sing praises to the Lord even if I’m not very good at it.
Anyway, between services one Sunday, Walter knocked on my study’s door, gave the guitar to me that I’ve used ever since, and said, “You don’t play well, but this will make you sound better.”
I cannot begin to tell you how intimidating it was to discover that faithful first service worshipper had played with Annie Hill, Pete Seeger, and many other stringed luminaries.
Parenthetically, that comes to mind on those Sundays on the corner of Lincoln and Main when we are blessed to have Dan Holmes lead worship.
I flew back to preside at Walter’s memorial service a few years later and recalled one of the most sobering things that he ever said to me: “I don’t have many friends because a real friend is someone who will take a bullet for you.”
Certainly, that will come as a shock to Facebook addicts who claim sooooooo many “friends” who enable their insatiable appetite and need to be “liked” for this and that and whatever.
Helllllllooooooo! Anybody up for a reality check?
Of course, Jesus said, “There is no greater proof of love than giving up one’s life for a friend.”
He did that for you and me; and noted, “If you want to prove that you’re My friends, you will take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me.”
Paraphrasing some more, “If you are willing to die for Me, that proves you are My friend.”
It all fits together.
He said being a friend of His means being a friend of His family and being a friend of His family is being His friend: “As you do it for others, you do it for Me. As you don’t do it for others, you don’t do it for Me.”
In other words, when we are willing to take a bullet for Him, we are willing to take a bullet for His family; for taking a bullet for His family is the same as taking a bullet for Him.
That defines friendship according to Walter who got if from Jesus.
If so, so.
If not, not.
It puts a big dent in Facebook’s superficial definition of “friends” and the insatiable need of its addicts to be “liked” for this and that and whatever.
That’s why Walter didn’t have many friends.
That’s why – let’s be honest – we don’t have many friends.
That’s why Jesus doesn’t have many friends.
That’s the truth and He/we knows/know it.
The good news of Christianity is we have a friend in Jesus.
He will die for us.
More good news is His friends are our friends and are with/for us when the bullets start flying.
Psalm 16 is all about knowing God is our friend.
God has always been that kind of friend and confirmed His friendship beyond any doubts in Jesus who took a bullet for us on the cross.
David knew – and so do we in our sober moments with Walter – only God and the Godly can be trusted completely: “God, I take refuge in You…I have no good besides You…You are my true Father and friend and lover of my soul…and I delight in holy people who are so close to You that I can trust them too.”
David knew – and so do we in our sober moments with Walter – it is a tragic miscalculation to place complete trust in anyone but God and the Godly: “How sad it is for those who consider anyone but God and the Godly to be true friends.”
David knew – and so do we in our sober moments with Walter –
friendship as exemplified best by God and the Godly is among the greatest graces: “Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing…Life is good with You and Yours…I have a beautiful inheritance…Because of God and the Godly, I will not be shaken…My heart is glad…My spirit rejoices…I sleep well because I am safe and protected by my greatest friend and His friends who are my friends because we’re family…God and the Godly will never abandon me and will always pick me up from the pits.”
David’s forecast and Walter’s faith declare Messiah Jesus as the perfect incarnation of divine friendship: “You reveal the path of life to me. In Your presence is abundant joy with eternal pleasures by grace through faith.”
We get to God through Jesus; for as He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father except through Me.”
When someone says bikers are crazy to bikers, bikers know three things.
First, people who say that are a little envious because they don’t have the courage to ride and experience its thrills.
Second, bikers are a little crazy because they know the risks but ride regardless because the rewards are greater than the risks.
Third, not afraid of their own deaths which is highlighted by the Christian symbol of a skull that has always been a part of our faithful tradition because we fear God more than anyone else and don’t fear death because there is eternal life after life by grace through faith in Jesus, bikers have a loyalty to each other accentuated by the ubiquitous hand wave whenever passing each other.
During a recent mandatory ride with some of my favorite bikers, we were reminded of Walter’s definition of true friendship that he got from Jesus.
We recalled a challenge from Jerry Kirk that he always gave to anyone claiming to be God’s friend: “Think of the one thing that you will not give up for God. That’s the one thing that He wants the most from you. That’s the one thing that you must give up to prove your faith in Him and receive His greatest blessings for you.”
Surely, as Jesus said, the greatest thing that we can give up for God is our lives – taking a bullet for Him.
It can be as literal as martyrdom.
It’s happened before, is happening now, and will happen again to God’s real friends.
It can be taking abuse, enduring scorn, and losing phony-baloney-pseudo friends for esteeming Jesus by creed, deed, deportment, and countenance.
So I asked my biker buddies, “Would you die for God and the Godly to prove your love for Him and each other?”
That’s what defines friendship.
If so, so.
If not, not.
Walter was right.
He didn’t have many friends.
Jesus didn’t have many friends.
Psalm 16 is ultimately all about needing just One.
Christianity is all about having just One.
He is enough.
As He promised, “If you give up your life for Me…If you take a bullet for Me…If you give up your life for each other which is the same as giving up your life for Me…If you take a bullet for each other which is the same as taking a bullet for Me, you will be blessed here and now and forever.”
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!