Make Friends with Life
Faith and Life
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
We must live in relation to other people in the world. We need other people.
Some people need other people more than other people!
Different people need other people to different
degrees. But we all need other people.
Most people feel lonely at some time or other.
Sometimes we need company, friendship, help.
We need relationships with others -- and
A. Risk in Relationships
At some time or another all of us have
been close to someone and known the disappointment of having that person
let us down. We have loved someone and when we let our guard down, we've
been hurt, been betrayed.
What if you like somebody and they don't
like you back?
We may vow never again to become involved
with anyone. Never let anyone get close to us again. Never love again.
Never trust anyone. We must keep our guard up because we don't want to
be hurt again. But this is a false security.
This denies us a basic component of the
life God planned for us.
From what Jesus of Nazareth teaches about
life, this is really to deny life, not to overcome it. It would seem the
answer is not to avoid involvement, but to deal with disappointment that
When we focus on the hurt we feel, we miss
out on the bigger picture. The important thing is not what happens to us,
but how we respond. The way of faith focuses on what God can do in the
People try different things to fill the vacuum
of meaning and purpose in their lives. The Jesus Way offers the power
to live a life of involvement -- in sharing life and love with others.
When we close ourselves off to relationships with others, we box ourselves
in, cut off from much of what life offers.
I. God affirmed human life.
John 1 draws a beautiful picture of the
Creative Essence of God, called the Word, coming into a human life. That
life was Jesus. God both affirmed the value of human life and its limitations.
Jesus risked and gave up all in his death.
But it was in that full acceptance of humanity
that the divine victory came. It is so hard to understand and accept that
victory comes from loss, that reward comes from pain.
In Jesus, God affirms his ultimate creation,
Yet God's intention for his creation is not completely fulfilled.
We try to wrest control of life from God,
perverting his intention into an ugly reality. We try to control life,
rather than become partners with God's plan. We try to run our life as though we know
and could manage all the factors in life. We treat life as an enemy,
and our desire to do God's work for him perverts his plan for us.
This is humanness.
We go wrong, we fail. Oddly, we fail most
when we try to control things. We fail to recognize that this is God's
job. We try to usurp God's power. We act as though we are the center of
the universe, as though we are in charge, and have the power to control
all the factors.
We deny our humanity.
But we need God and other people. I am
not sufficient to myself. And when I think that I am or act like I am,
that is sin. Because I am missing the intention of God.
I am missing the target. That is the meaning
But even that is OK. God still loves us.
We are designed for Sin!
A. God knows we are
God designed us so we could sin. But that
is because he also designed us so we could avoid sinning. This is sometimes
referred to as "free will."
What value would it be if we had to love
God? How can true love be coerced? The value of love is that it is given
God took a risk in creating us -- but when
we choose to love and acknowledge him, he enjoys the result!
God created Adham (Adam) -- Humanity
God created Hawa (Eve) -- Life
God created Human Life
God's greatest glory is when we choose
to love him, to do good -- not because we are forced to, but because we
We become partners
with God, in the intention for life.
C. God's intention:
"And we pray this
in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lrod and may please him
in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowedge
God's Intention was shown in Jesus.
He offers us the kind of life shown in
Jesus - Eternal Life.
But our wills are weak, aren't they?
We don't do everything it would've been
We run out of time. The day was too short?
But then why did I run out of time?
I can't control everything.
I don't know everything, so sometimes
things don't turn out as I intend.
This is human. So why not just accept being
human, and confess it at the outset?
Let's let God be God, and accept that we
are only human -- what he made us to be! Admit our limits.
(English) = amartia
(Greek) -- both were originally sports terms, meaning "missing the target."
Not breaking rules, or incurring punishment.
Just messing up, which is inherent in being
human. Not as good as it could be, as it should be.
Being human means being limited, making
mistakes and sometimes hurting others. Being human means not being able
to control everything. Life gets complex.
III. Forgiveness is part of the Plan.
This is why we need
each other. This is why we need forgiveness.
Cooperation and community -- with God,
with each other.
This is the meaning and purpose of the church
I once read a comment on the book High
Wind at Noon. I never found the whole book to read it.
"In the book High Wind at Noon,
there is a touching story of forgiveness. Peer Holm's next-door neighbor
owned a vicious dog. Though others urged him to get rid of the dog he refused.
Then one day the dog escaped, attacked Peer Holm's daughter, and killed
"The community was outraged against the
dog's owner and boycotted him, refusing to sell him any grain to plant
in his newly plowed and furrowed field. When the wheat came up on everyone
else's farm, his field was still brown.
"In the middle of the night, Peer Holm
went to his neighbor's field, planted the wheat, and returned home. When
it was discovered, the citizens asked why he did it. Peer Holm replied,
'I did it so that God could come alive again.'"
"Forgiveness is a divine trait. Only God
can forgive sin and restore fellowship. And only God can give ability to
forgive another when a wrong has been done."
[Open Windows, Vol. 33, No. 1 (February 8, 1969), "Forgiveness for
Peer Holm was living the life of God. He overcame or absorbed his hurt
and his grief in a loving spirit. Risk brings reward. Sometimes you win
by losing. Sometimes you overcome evil by enduring it.
Good for Evil
Here is what Jesus teaches:
"You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But
I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that
you may be the sons of your Father in heaven."
-- Matthew 5:43-45.
Love your enemies. When we resist
evil with evil, we agree that evil is the best way. We give evil strength.
If we return good for evil, we diminish the
power of evil – over ourselves and over others! We absorb evil and change
the force of its power into good which we produce in the world.
The Christian's Attitude
A Christian can see purpose and meaning
beyond the frustration and disappointment of every day. We can participate
in God's activity of redeeming the world by replacing the world's injustice with the justice
IV. Freedom and Joy
Some people try to deal with the realization of sin by organizing their
lives to punish themselves. They live by guilt, denying themselves good
things in life, by never having fun.
They squeeze the joy out of life, and focus on their own tendency to
They focus thus on their own human effort to be good.
2. This again is a denial of our humanness.
It assumes we can make ourselves good.
Or that we have the authority to judge and punish ourselves, instead of
leaving it to God, as Jesus says.
They become their own enemies.
They deny the joy of life. Legalistic
religion sets rules by which we are judged.
But instead, Paul tells us the purpose of the Law
was to show us we needed a savior.
It was to point us to the good, not to punish us because we had not
b. Faith frees
us -- to experience God's life, God's Spirit.
Jesus said he wanted us to have His Joy in us, and for us to have that
Joy fully. John 15:11-13
Joy is related to Love -- Love Produces
If we experience the freeing, affirming
love of God, how can we reject the joy of the full life he gives us!?
The Faith of Christ is a Faith of Joy, Celebration and Praise!
We can enjoy God and enjoy each other in God --
Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with tambourine and harp.
the Lord takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with salvation.
the saints rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.
This is worship – the foundation of
the Full Life: God enjoys us, we enjoy him. God's life is a joyful
It would seem that God has fun. And his
fun centers in sharing who He is with his creatures!
New Year's Celebration
We attended a New Year's celebration with
some friends in our church in Nicosia. That night at Greg and Georgia's
we were free and happy. There was music, dancing, visiting, eating. We
were enjoying each other.
This party was different from some other
New Year's parties. We were free, relaxed, comfortable and safe. All these activities
were set in the context of why we were there. We were all believers in
Christ, members of his family, free in him, loving him and each other.
Love: Augustine, that famous Berber Bishop
from Carthage, what we know as Tunisia:
"Love God and do what you want to."
When you love God, pleasing him is basic
to your life. Doing what is good and right is basic. Acting in love means
doing what produces good, not evil. If you love God, what you do will be
in love, in God's will, in right and good.
V. Make Friends with Life
I grew up in the radio business, and started
working as a child with my father. I worked in radio to pay my way through
university and part of graduate school. I worked as a DJ and producer.
During this college time I also had a Bible teaching program every Sunday.
I started this and paid for it with my own money, because I thought God
told me to.
One of the popular singers during that
time was Mac Davis. Davis was a popular philosopher and grand poet.
Mac Davis, in a song called I'll Paint You a Song, says,
"There's little I can offer you; just rhymes
and melody are all I have to give. But I've made friends with life and
I can comfort you."
This is a beautiful expression of a positive
and triumphant attitude towards life. "I've made friends with life."
This is the attitude we can have if we live by faith in Jesus
Christ, accepting God's revelation of himself and his love and purpose.
We can make friends with life by trusting
the one who gives us life and who holds in his will the purpose of our
life -- the one who can give us full life, eternal life.
"And we pray this in order that you may
live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way;
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowedge of
God." God gives us back our full life. God
enjoys his work in our life!
B. God is a creator.
The story of Creation tells us: "And he saw it was good" [Genesis 1 passim].
This might be stated
"And he felt pleasure in his work."
Or maybe we could say
"And he felt satisfied with what he had done."
1. God is an Artist
he creates, he enjoys it, and he does it again.
Creativity, beauty, joy, satisfaction,
These are themes in the history of revelation
recorded in the Bible.
Paul portrays our salvation as the New Creation.
God is still creating, still enjoying,
still loving, still forgiving, still enjoying fellowshipping with his human
C. God's image
in us – It would seem that image is found in our creativity
Using our gifts, interests, to create good,
beauty, joy, love, and ultimately LIFE.
Galatians 3:23-26--Free from the Law
this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith
should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that
we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer
under the supervision of the law. You are the children of God through faith
in Christ Jesus...."
We can enjoy life!
We are free from
requirements and restrictions. Free to find pleasure in living life in
God's grace. The Good Life is found in the Freedom of God's Spirit.
Free to let God be God, to accept being human, and to fulfill our divine
"You my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve
one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love
your neighbor as yourself."
Faith frees us to make friends with life in God's grace.
Conclusion -- Ecclesiastes 3:11-13
He has made everything beautiful in its
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet they cannot fathom
what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that there is nothing better for
than to be happy and
do good while they live.
That every man may eat and drink,
and find satisfaction
in all his toil –
this is the gift of God.
Make Friends with Life -- in God's
Note: all Bible passages quoted from the
New International Version
Concept developed for a radio presentation developed in August 1970.
Revised and expanded for presentation at New Life International Church 21 January 2001.
This article first posted 23 February 2001.
Posted on the Jenkins Millennium Culture Centre 28 May 2002.
Last edited 22 November 2007.
Copyright © 2001, 2002 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for
personal or educational use. Other rights reserved. All other rights reserved.