Friday, May 15, 2020

Refections for Youth - Friends (not the TV show)

I've been thinking a lot about my friends lately. I am sure you have, too.  In these quarantine days, while we are able to connect through our phones and technology, it sure is no fun not being able to be with our friends in person.

Friends are so important to us. They are our sounding boards. They make us laugh. They listen to our rants and raves.  They encourage us. No matter what our age our friends offer us a way to experience the world outside our families.

When I was a little kid, I remember when my grandfather would come to visit he would always sit at the piano and sing hymns.  One of his favorite things to play and sing was "What a friend we have in Jesus."   That's a little weird isn't' it?  Being friends with Jesus?  For some people, it's hard to get our minds around what it means to have a friendship with someone that we have never met in person and only read about in scripture.  How can we be friends with Jesus? What does it mean to have a "relationship" with God? 

This week's scripture passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus is preparing his friends for his departure and expresses his love and concern for his friends.

Read John 14: 15-21 

Some quick things:
  • John’s Gospel was written in the late first century, about seventy years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • John in chapters 13–17 records John’s version of the Last Supper. Interestingly, it contains no specific mention of the meal or the institution of the Lord’s Supper as the other Gospels record (Matthew 26:17–35; Mark 14:12–31; Luke 22:1–38). In its place, John records the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
For me when I read scripture it's often helpful to look at different translations of the Bible and take a look at the way the passage is interpreted. Here are verses 15, 16, and 17 in several different versions. 


New Revised Standard Version: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
Good News Translation: “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.”
The Message: “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!”
Contemporary English Version: “If you love me, you will do as I command. Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you. The Spirit will show you what is true. The people of this world cannot accept the Spirit, because they don’t see or know him. But you know the Spirit, who is with you and will keep on living in you.”
King James Version: “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
Revised Standard Version: “If you love me, you will keep my
commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another
Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world
cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him,
for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
Common English Bible: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.

In all these different versions, these are the words that jumped out at me that are different from each other:
Advocate
Helper
Friend
Holy Spirit
Comforter
Counselor
Companion
Do they all mean the same thing to you? What if we use all these words to help us to understand what Jesus is saying? Perhaps all these words help us recognize that Christ is truly present among us when we keep his commandments to love and serve one another.

Things to think about:
  • Look around you in your community-your church community as well as the greater community in which you live and serve—and see where you can identify ways that God is working in the word.  
  • What's the best thing about having a friend?
  • What's the best thing about being a friend?
  • What are some other words that you can think up for "friend"?
Here is some bonus content! If you have some time, watch this video by pastor and author Rob Bell.  The video is about what it means to have a relationship with God.  There are always more questions than answers! There are some questions below to think about after you watch. 







  • When you think about God, what images come to mind?
  • What is it about a relationship with God that you find difficult to comprehend?
  • In what ways does the narrator answer his question: “Are you in tune?”
  • How does Jesus show us how to live in tune with the song?
  • In what ways is playing in an orchestra like being a part of a church?




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