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Old Friends

This week with the men’s groups we did some mock introductions and I think you’ll find the results interesting. I first had Calvin introduce Johnny, whom he only knows casually. Calvin wasn’t expecting it and stiffened up a bit, and struggled to introduce Johnny with what little he knows about him:

“Teaches Kung Fu here at the Y – Comes to 721 – Really good guy – Married? I think. Children …? Uh, not sure.”

But then I had Calvin introduce his lifelong buddy, Maxie. His countenance changed immediately. Suddenly he was relaxed, a smile spread across his face and he began to chuckle as he started telling stories about growing up together.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. It can be awkward if you have to unexpectantly introduce someone you don’t know well. You stumble through whatever information you know about them. But if you are introducing an old friend, especially someone you love and with whom you share rich memories, it’s fun to introduce them.

You tell stories about your life experiences together: fun stories about laughing together; perhaps a sad story about a trying time together; a poignant story or two about when he was there for you, when you had to lean on her, and together you made it through.

Do you notice the common word: ‘together?’

When introducing a dear friend we’re loose, enthusiastic, and full of joy; when introducing an acquaintance we are not. The difference is an information transfer versus a sharing of rich experiences.

So, how would you introduce Jesus to someone? Not ‘present the gospel,’ just introduce him as a friend? Would you stiffen up, and stumble through a formal information transfer? “Uh, this is Jesus. He says he is the Son of God. He was born of a virgin. He did a lot of miracles, and eventually was crucified on a Roman cross. He died for my sins.”

Or would you have lots and lots of stories to tell: fun stories about times you laughed together, and stories about when you cried together? Would you have an abundance of details to share about all the time you’ve spent together? Hopefully you would be relaxed and confident, and overflowing with joy and laughter as you talk about your … best friend, Jesus.

We can tell a lot about relationships by the way we introduce people. And you can tell a lot about your relationship – or lack thereof – by the way you talk about Jesus. If you don’t have any stories and experiences together to share, it would be worthwhile to examine why. You either don’t know Jesus, or you don’t share your life with him.

Perhaps I should repeat that: You either don’t know Jesus, or you don’t share your life with him.

Think about this: Imagine when you were growing up you did something stupid, perhaps really bad, but your best friend got caught instead of you. He kept silent, never exposing you, and took your blame, even though he was totally innocent. What if he even took a beating for you, or faced shame in the community, because of you?

You’d tell that story when you introduced him, wouldn’t you?

Tonight 2000 years ago Jesus was arrested, mocked, humiliated and beaten. The intent was to make a fool out of him, and then kill him. He took that shame, and he took your blame, without uttering a word about his innocence. Tonight and throughout this Easter weekend, as you think about the humiliation and beating Jesus took for you, may you begin – or begin to renew – your friendship with Jesus, so that your future introductions are overflowing with details, full of joy and the richness of all the ties that bind.

You broke the bonds

And you loosed the chains

Carried the cross of my shame

Took my blame, you know I believe it

U2 I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For