Deeper Friendships

By Scott Brooks

www.DeeperFriendships.com

(ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Chapter 5 – A Big Step toward Our Original Design

The Gardener pulled the garden hose out from under the bushes, fixed it up, and hooked it up to the faucet.  He then turned the valve counterclockwise, and the water began to flow.  At first the water did not look clear since dust, dirt, and cobwebs were being washed out.  But then the crystal clear water came forth as the garden began to be watered.  Over time, a beautiful crop of fruits and vegetables came forth. 

In this chapter we will look at how each of us can get hooked up to God, just like the garden hose got hooked up to the outdoor faucet.  You may already be hooked up, and if you are, I hope this chapter proves to be a reminder of how fortunate you are to already be so connected and possibly give you additional insights into this amazing privilege.  If you are not already hooked up, may this chapter give you the needed explanation for how you, too, can get hooked up, which is a key step toward your being able to grow toward your original design for deeper friendships with Jesus and others.

A Disclaimer on the Context of this Chapter

As we will see later in this chapter, there is a decision that Jesus gives each of us as to whether we would like to get hooked up or not.  He will not demand us or manipulate us to do so, even though out of His love for us, His heart’s desire is to give us this amazing gift.  In light of this, even though I will share with you concepts and steps that you can take to get hooked up, in no way do I want to do a relational violation of the 1 Corinthians 13 definition of love that says, “It does not demand its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT)   Instead, I desire to be respectful of you as I treat you as a good friend without pressuring, manipulating, or coercing you to also get hooked up.  I am personally glad that years ago, I made the decision to get hooked up, and I think it is great that my friendships with Jesus and others are growing in such good ways.  And even though I think this is the best decision others can make as well, I foremost want to give you the freedom to choose whether or not you would like to get hooked up.  With this disclaimer in place, I now feel the freedom to continue with this chapter.

Hookup Basics Overview

In order for the garden hose to be restored and hooked up to the faucet, it required certain actions on the part of the Gardener and it also required willingness on the part of the hose.  Now granted, a hose is an inanimate object that does not have a choice, but in our case, there is action needed both by Jesus as the Gardener as well as us as the garden hose.  So, in the following section we will look at the actions needed by Jesus, followed by a section about the actions needed by us.   We will then be able to build upon both of these sections to look at the actual hookup steps.

Understanding what is needed on God’s part

God did an absolutely amazing thing for you and me in order to provide a way for us to get restored and hooked up.  I do not fully grasp how amazing it truly is, but from what I currently understand, I will share with you. 

Many people know the following Bible verse that summarizes what Jesus did for us:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

In light of the concepts in this book about seeing sin as relational violation, here is my own fuller version of John 3:16 that expands upon this tremendous thing God has done for each of us:

For God so greatly loved each and every individual person that He gave Himself in the person of Jesus and went to the cross on our behalf, where He experienced and paid for each and every hurtful relational violation that every individual person has ever and will ever experience by what others have done or will do to them.  God took all of this upon Himself so that we could experience healing of all of the relational violations that others have inflicted upon us, and also forgiveness for the relational violations we have inflicted upon others.  God is not a distant God who does not know our pain.  Instead, He is an amazing God who loves each of us so fully that on the cross He personally experienced the pain of every relational violation that we have had or will experience in the future.  And through this amazing payment, God provides the means of forgiveness needed for each person to enter into a deep friendship with Him both now and for eternity.  This gives us a wonderful example of the kind of love that God has for each and every one of us.  So, Jesus is not a distant God, but One who has intimate firsthand knowledge of all of the relational violation pain we have suffered.

I can only imagine how much it physically hurt Jesus to be executed by crucifixion, but on top of this can you imagine experiencing the pain of every hurtful relational violation that every single person has or will experience?  Jesus, out of tremendous love for each of us, took all of this pain upon Himself so that you and I could receive healing for our wounded hearts, and forgiveness for all the relational violations we have made against others.  If you think of the times you have been hurt by others, can you imagine multiplying that pain by what all people in past, present, and future generations have had and will experience?  I cannot begin to fathom the kind of love that Jesus perfectly maintained in providing such a payment for each of us.  Jesus freely laid down His very life as a blood sacrifice for each and every one of us so that He could offer you and me the free gift of forgiveness and healing.  In the garden hose metaphor, forgiveness and healing are part of the hose restoration process.

In looking at what Jesus did for each of us, the following question comes to my mind, “How could a person of normal human size take all the relational violations of every single person upon Himself?”  If Jesus was only a person, then this could not be humanly possible, but the following verses give us a clue as to how this was truly accomplished:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Jesus), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

It was this larger-than-we-can-imagine God of the universe that through Jesus, was taking all of these relational violations upon Himself.  If we think about the distance from here to the moon, it gives us a place to start in thinking about the size of God’s heart – which is even much larger yet.  This huge heart was literally experiencing all of the pain caused by the relational violations done by every human in the past, present, and future.  A square mile of size might be needed for a single person who has caused a lot of relational violation over the course of their life.  If we now multiply this by every human that ever lived, lives now, or will live in the future, we see that God made an amazing payment for everyone by taking all of this pain upon Himself.  The heart of God was truly filled with pain as Jesus hung there on the cross, and this gives us a small glimpse into the kind of love that God has for each of us.  If you think of a person living near you, can you imagine taking upon yourself all of their pain that they experienced through the relational violations that others have inflicted upon them, so that they could be healed of that pain?  Would you be willing to carry around their pain so that they no longer had to carry it?  It would definitely be their pain at your expense.  Could you now imagine doing this for every person of all generations?  And yet, this is exactly what God did on the cross!

In chapter three I said, “But, with Jesus being perfect in love, His heart’s desire is to give us the very best, no matter the cost to Himself.”  What Jesus did on the cross demonstrates the last part of this quote.  He paid a cost that is off the charts in terms of sacrificial love.  On the cross Jesus had you and me held in His heart even though we were not yet alive at that time, but He looked through time and embraced each of us.  John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” And this is truly what Jesus did for you and me!

Jesus’ payment on the cross is even greater than what I have described so far!  Not only did Jesus pay for the human to human relational violations, but Jesus also paid for every relational violation that people have done against themselves and have also done against God.  For example, a person may have the relational violation of hatred in their heart toward others, themselves, and God.  So, God’s payment on the cross is for people of all times.  And it accounts for every past, present, and future relational violation.  This includes both the obvious and less obvious things that people do that work against the greatest two commandments of them loving God, others, and themselves.  All of this adds up to an absolutely awesome thing that God has done on the cross on our behalf and is more amazing than my mind can even begin to comprehend!

Understanding what is needed on our part

In the prior section we saw that God in the person of Jesus did a tremendous amount on our behalf to make it possible for us to get restored and hooked up.  But what about us, what do we need to do in order to be able to partake of all that Jesus did for us on the cross and to join Him in a partnership of friendship?

If you or I wanted to become an accomplished musician, and an expert music teacher graciously offered to give us an instrument, music books, lessons, and coaching all for free, would the teacher be glad for us if we took the instrument and music books but never practiced, never showed up for lessons, and never paid attention to their coaching?  Would it be surprising that we did not progress well toward our original desire to become an accomplished musician?

In a similar way, Jesus perfectly loves us, and in this love He graciously and freely offers to forgive us for all the relational violations we have ever done (according to His payment for us on the cross), to fill us with His Holy Spirit, and to enable us, teach us, and grow us toward our original design of a partnership of friendship with Him as is stated in chapter 3:

And our design is to live a life of love and to partner with Jesus in doing the good things that we are uniquely designed for.  As it says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  This is a gift from Jesus to us, in that He will grow us into who we truly are as we learn to walk with His love flowing through us and as we partner with Him in doing the “good works” that are places where we can express that love, and where our friendships with Jesus and others can blossom.

If we only desire to be forgiven, but do not truly want to be freed up and grow toward our original design, would Jesus be glad for us?  Would it truly be for our best?  Would it be surprising if we did not progress well?

Since Jesus perfectly loves us, He desires for our sake that we would succeed in growing well toward our original design.  In light of this, He made a pretty blunt statement for our benefit:

If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39 NLT)

So, in order for us to be able to partake of His forgiveness, we first need to be willing to agree to His conditions that are needed for us to succeed. 

Interestingly, this Matthew 10:37-39 passage gives us a wonderful example of how Jesus is infinitely wise and is the best coach.  If we did not know that Jesus is perfect in motives and only wants our best, we might incorrectly conclude that He is being selfish in wanting us to not love others more than Him.  But, this passage gives us one of the keys to growing toward deeper friendships with Jesus and others.  It shows us that we are designed to give our hearts first to Jesus, not to humans.  And as our hearts are open and close to Jesus (i.e. a key part of the faucet hookup), the flow of His love will increase through us.  This in turn will enable us to have His love for Him, others, and ourselves.  This will result in us having much more love for others, including our father and mother, son and daughter, spouse, and many others.  Not only this, but we will also avoid a lot of relational hurt that can occur if we give our heart to another person, and then get hurt by that person since the person is not loving all the time like Jesus is.

If you have opened your heart to others and have been really hurt by them, the thought of opening and giving your heart to Jesus may seem scary to you.  You may wonder if by doing so, you will get hurt by Jesus or others.  Because Jesus perfectly loves you, He will never do the relational violation of emotionally “knifing” you.  So, you do not have to worry about getting your heart hurt by Jesus.  But you might think, “What about other people?  If I open my heart to Jesus, will that mean that others will be able to hurt my heart more?”  Fortunately, there is an authority that Jesus gives with His love that can help protect our hearts from others, and yet allow them to stay open to Jesus and still have His love for other people.  As we grow in our friendship with Jesus and learn from Him, He can teach us how to protect our hearts by not giving our hearts to others and also by not receiving hurtful things from them.  Since this is a learning process, some hurtful things may still get through.  Fortunately, Jesus is also able to heal the wounds of our hearts if we ask Him to do so.

Even if all of this makes sense to you, you may still be hesitant to make such a large commitment with your life, since you may not know all the details that are involved.  So, you might ask me, “Well, you have been growing in your partnership with Jesus for a few decades, what is all involved?”  The honest answer I could give you is that growth at times is quite challenging, and yet incredibly worthwhile!  Jesus is an expert coach who does not compromise the training requirements needed for us to grow and be freed into our original design.  And fortunately, Jesus knows exactly what He is doing and does so only for our very best! 

One example of the challenging aspect of growth is found in what Jesus stated about forgiveness.  Jesus said that if we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us. (See Matthew 6:15.)  I have at times found it challenging to forgive others who have been mean to me.  And yet, I now see that it is a great freedom for me to be able to forgive others even when they do not ask me to forgive them.  This way I am not controlled by having grudges toward other people.  I also now see that if I hold a grudge toward one person, it will hinder me from loving Jesus and others – since such a grudge puts a kink in the garden hose, which in turn hinders the water of God’s love from flowing through me.  So, depending on what relational violations others have done to you, this may be a very challenging thing for you.  Fortunately, if we are willing, Jesus can empower us to be able to do such amazing things as forgiving others. 

A second example is one which may not be obvious at first, but is very real none the less.  It is the demonic forces that will hate and tempt you all the more because of their hating God’s Holy Spirit within you as well as hating you loving and being a good friend to God.  Fortunately, Jesus will protect you and limit how much these demons can do to you.  The measure of what Jesus allows you to bear will be at times like a refiner’s fire for removing dross from a precious metal.  But fortunately, Jesus limits the refining and trials to the minimal amount needed for the maximum benefit!  Even though I have found this to be very challenging at times, I also smile at the realization that this process is very worthwhile in how Jesus uses it to help me grow in character and to function all the more according to my original design for deeper friendships.  And not only does it have benefit for life on earth, but for eternity in heaven as well!

Since you may want to know more about what I’m talking about in terms of these demonic forces, I thought it would be nice and possibly helpful if I gave you a fuller explanation before continuing on…

Many years ago, there were many angels who became arrogant, rejected Jesus, broke their friendship with Jesus, and turned toward all kinds of evil.  God eventually gave them the absolutely perfect sentence of justice that their actions deserved, including removing them from heaven.  These fallen angels are also known as demons, and because they lost their positions in heaven and because of the evil they have embraced, they are now motivated first and foremost by their totally unjustified, extremely intense hatred toward God.  Due to this, demons now have intense hatred at the very core of their being where they not only have extreme hatred for God, but they also have an incredible amount of hatred toward all humans as well!

The demons’ hatred of humans is further fueled by their desire to be mean to God, where they indirectly attempt to be mean to God by trying to hinder humans from growing toward friendship with the God who has created them and loves them.  Instead of wanting people to function according to the original design to love God, others, and themselves, these demons try to get people to do many relational violations that will result in the people hating God, others, and even themselves. 

So if you enter into a close friendship with Jesus, including receiving God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within you, then the demons will hate you all the more – both out of their extreme hatred toward the God who now dwells within you, and also because they especially hate anyone actually loving and being a good friend to God.  In this, they will be mean and tempt you like they do to all humans – but in an even greater way. 

These demons are very smart and often won’t use a direct, obvious attack against you that you would easily recognize as working against deeper friendships.  Instead, they will subtly tempt you in your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and desires to do things that may seem appealing to you, but the temptation is built by them in such a way that if you are lured away by the temptation, you will first need to do the relational violation of pulling your heart away from God, closing your heart toward God, and even hardening your heart toward God – all of which will kink the garden hose and stop the flow of God’s Holy Spirit so that you will not be able to love God, others, and yourself.     

The demons will also tempt others to do relational violations against you, and will then tempt you to react in a way that causes you to do relational violations in return.  For example, the demons might tempt someone to gloat over you, judge you, reject you, and/or be mean to you in some way.  And if instead of turning the other cheek, you follow the temptation to judge, get mad at, and reject that person, it will cause a relational violation kink in the hose that will prevent you from continuing to have God’s love for not only that person, but for God, others, and yourself as well.

Like I said earlier, the demons intensely hate all people and tempt all people.  So, you will be tempted whether or not you enter into a friendship with Jesus.  But, if you do enter into a friendship with Jesus, He will limit how much you are tempted and He will help you to overcome temptations as is stated in the following verse:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Fortunately, having God’s Holy Spirit on the inside of oneself is fantastic, including that the Holy Spirit is infinitely more powerful than all the demons put together!  And learning to rely on God’s Holy Spirit is one of the keys to overcoming temptation – where not only will God help us to realize when and how we are being tempted, but He will also show us how to overcome temptation through His power and enabling.  This is one of the keys for us growing toward deeper friendships. 

With all of these details about demonic forces and temptation explained, I’ll now continue…

Now that we looked at some of the challenges and benefits of what is needed on our part, there is still a catch-22 in looking at joining a friendship partnership with Jesus.  And that is even if you read many additional details as to what is involved, you still would not fully know what it is like unless you actually partner with Jesus for a while.  It would be like if you were single and I was trying to explain to you what married life is like.  You have a free choice to say “I do” or not to the marriage relationship.  But the catch-22 is that you still will not know all that is required, unless you have experiential firsthand knowledge of being married.  After twenty years of marriage, you probably would have a much better idea of what is required to have a growing marriage.  But you cannot have twenty years of married experience without saying, “I do,” at the start.  Also, the unique circumstances of your life are most likely not exactly the same as mine.  But, fortunately there are some things that can help you with this decision that have more to do with who Jesus is as your partner than with the particular details of how such a partnership would be for you.

The first thing is the character and desires of God that we looked at in chapter three.  I will restate them here:

Some of God’s desires

    • He desires our best (Jeremiah 29:11).

    • He desires a close relationship with us (John 15:15; Matthew 23:37).

    • He desires for us to value ourselves, others, and God (Matthew 22:34-40).

    • He desires that we would know that we are significant, both at the present time and throughout eternity (John 13:1-5; Isaiah 49:15-16; Revelation 2:17; 3:12).

    • He desires that we would be set free into His very best for our lives (John 8:36; 10:10).

 Some of God’s characteristics

It is easy to attribute human motives and characteristics to God. But there will always be an “Other-ness” to God—aspects of His character that no human could ever attain. Here is a list of such characteristics:

    • He always wants our best (Romans 8:28).

    • He is always perfect in His motives (Isaiah 55:8-9).

    • He infinitely values us (1 Peter 1:18-19; Romans 5:6-11).

    • He is never partial (Romans 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17).

    • He never commits injustice (2 Chronicles 19:7).

    • He never lies (Numbers 23:19; John 14:6).

    • He always has selfless love toward us (1 John 4:8; Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 36:5-7).

    • He is infinitely knowledgeable and wise (Romans 11:33-36; Isaiah 40:28).

    • He knows us completely (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:1-18).

    • He never makes a mistake (2 Samuel 22:31; Deuteronomy 32:4).

    • His character and desires have always been and will always be consistent throughout eternity (Hebrews 13:8).

It is encouraging to know that Jesus is infinitely wise and knows exactly what is needed for us to be freed up and grow into our true design.  This is much better than being coached by someone who does not really know what they are doing.  It is also nice to know that Jesus is perfect in love and motives toward us.  In this, Jesus will never cause a relational violation toward us, but will instead consistently help us each step of the way. 

Secondly, if we come into relationship with Jesus, He is the one who provides the water that is needed to water the garden.  In other words, Jesus is the one who provides His Holy Spirit that we can receive so that His Holy Spirit within us will then give us what is needed for the fruit of the Holy Spirit to come forth in our lives.  It is as if we have a car that does not have an engine, and we try to push that car down the road.  The car works much better when it has an engine, is turned on, put in gear, and is driven down the road.  Receiving God’s Holy Spirit within us is like getting the engine put in the car and having the engine started.  Growth is being able to learn both how to put the car in gear and to drive well – which sure beats trying to push the car!

Lastly, I find it helpful to realize that Jesus does not need us in any way.  Instead, it is only out of His kindness and perfect love for us that He offers us to join Him in a partnership of friendship.  It is first for our sake and then secondly for Him.  It is definitely an amazing privilege for us!  As Genesis 15:1 says that He truly is our very great reward!

So, if you would like to join a partnership of friendship with Jesus, including agreeing to the conditions needed to succeed that were outlined in this section, then the following section will give you the actual steps you can take to get repaired and hooked up.

The Actual Steps

Someone might describe the following steps a little differently than I do, and these steps may work a little differently for you than they did for me, but from experience I can assure you that they are steps that actually work.

If you are proceeding with these steps, you have already taken the first step of being willing to agree to God’s conditions that were outlined in the last section.

The second step is to open wide your heart to Jesus.  So, instead of being at arms length and holding yourself away from Jesus, it is to open up to Him and say to Him something like, “Ok, I open and give my heart to You.”

The final step is for you to say something like this out loud to Jesus, “Jesus, I give my life to you for you to coach and grow me toward deeper friendships and all that You have for me.  According to what You have done for me on the cross, I ask that You would forgive me for all the relational violations I have done toward You, others, and myself.  I also ask You to heal my heart of all the relational violations that others have done to me.  And I invite You to come inside of me in a great measure of Your Holy Spirit and have the water of Your Holy Spirit begin to flow through me.  And please teach me and help me to grow well all the days of my life in all that You have for me, as You restore me to the original design of who I truly am.”

If you have taken these steps, then I congratulate you and welcome you to an incredible journey that will be challenging and yet rewarding.  A journey that you will find over time resonates with the very core of your being as being both good and right, and you will know deep down that it is an excellent path for you to be on.  You will be especially glad as you see the good fruits and vegetables emerging in the garden of your friendships, which in turn will help you to realize it is truly the best path you could have possibly chosen.

Summary

In this chapter we looked at how the garden hose could be restored to the outdoor faucet, and how this is a simple metaphor that barely describes the beyond-our-comprehension amazing thing that God did for us on the cross to provide the means for us to be healed, forgiven, and restored to a partnership of friendship with Him.  God’s action was definitely off the charts in terms of His sacrificial love for us!  We also looked at what is needed on our part to partake of this wonderful offer.  If you have taken these steps now or at some point in the past, I congratulate you and am glad for you, since these steps are needed for each of us to grow toward deeper friendships with Jesus and each other.

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