Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Friendship - Luxury or Necessity

“I expect most people to want me for some specific task or assist, but are not really interested in me.”

Have you ever felt that way? I have for about 40 years but I want to stop thinking that way.

We are in the process of relocating about four hours away. This is the fourth time we’ve made this type of move in ten years. I enjoy change and this change has helped me see why I enjoy moving like this.

I don’t make luxury friends well but I can develop necessity friends fairly easy. Do you know the difference in those friendships? There can be a very fine line when the necessity friend has the full potential of being a luxury friend.

One very special luxury friend lives in Columbus Georgia. She has taught me a lot about friendship. She initiated our friendship with a wave from her driveway when we first looked at the house. She followed up with banana bread the morning after we moved in. She called, introducing herself as “your neighbor” inviting me to do daily stuff like trips to K-Mart and I went. She never assumed or intruded. Always offered her friendship openly without smothering. I want to be like that but something holds me back. What is it?

I have another luxury friend who lives in Ohio. Our friendship began more as a necessity friendship with “reasons” for the friendship. Our friendship grew during her role as director of the day care at our church. Because of our background – same high school, church, college - I had a sense of comradery with her. I volunteered at the day care for administrative and kitchen tasks.

The thing I enjoy about moving are the farewell visits with necessity friends that allow me to enter into luxury friendships for a brief time. With this move, I’m seeing that I’ve missed out on the opportunity for some potentially very special luxury friendships. How did I miss out? Attitude mostly.

It is the “they aren’t interested in me” attitude in my life that keeps me from offering my friendship. For me, the phrase was more like “She is too busy. I don’t want to be a bother. She’d think I was a pest to call for no reason. I’ll contact her when I have a specific reason to do so.” Sounds like humility but it is really pride – fear of rejection that will hurt my pride. I now recognize this scheme of Satan has not only affected me but our entire culture.

I strongly believe that scripture instructs us to be united. When the believers who are living by the Spirit unite, the world will see the Body of Christ in the flesh. God has created us to be in relationship – intimate, luxury relationship with each other. He has placed in me the essence of who I am. That is a gift from God. When I offer to reveal that with others, I benefit from what he has placed in me and what he has placed in the other person.

I spend far too much time on “necessity” relationships and far too little time on “luxury” relationships. It is the luxury relationships that are the true necessity. Necessity relationship may unite us in tasks but luxury relationships lead us to unity in our faith.

The abundant life Jesus offers is the best luxury of all. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. And it is not a necessity for existence. But it makes life worth living.

This move will be different for me. No more waiting on a task oriented reason to make a friend. I’m going to offer someone the luxury of my friendship. Oh yeah, I might suffer rejection. Christ initiated a luxury relationship with us and was willing to experience rejection to a greater degree than I will ever experience.

To confide in someone, with who you really are, is risky. But there is no better gift than true friendship.

I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn't confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

John 15:15

To my luxury friends in Lexington – you know who you are. You have shared who you really are with me and encouraged me to be all that God has designed me to be. I will miss the look in your eyes when you have risked revealing yourself. It has been a blessing to accept the luxury of your friendship. It is a precious treasure. I will hold on to it as a delicate and fragile keepsake.

Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them. (Old song, great truth.)

Monday, November 14, 2005


"It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared.” Luke 24:34

Indescribable, uncontainable, all powerful, untamable, incomparable, unchangeable - I am awestruck.

There are no words to describe the experience of seeing Jesus. I can only imagine the emotions and thoughts of the two disciples that walked with him on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Just when they realized who he was, he disappeared. Their response: “were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us.”

I spent the last three days walking with Christ. Yesterday, shortly before leaving, I realized I was walking with Christ all three days. Oh how I wanted to cling to him and never leave. But that is not why he walked with me. The experience was not for me, but for you.

We use the phrase “body of Christ” in church to identify all believers as one. I have been in wonderful church bodies and comforted by some of the godliest people on this earth. But this weekend, I spent 72 hours with the Body of Christ – Christ in the flesh.

This Christ did not preach doctrine or argue man’s list of appropriate Christian behavior. This Christ showed love in a way I have never experienced before. The agape love from the Emmaus Community was a visible sign of how each of their pilgrimage experiences changed their lives. I have been given so much love, there is no way I can keep it from overflowing.

Another part of the Emmaus Community included me. Eight women seated at the Table of Mary were so covered in prayer because of the painful lose of one, that the entire table bonded into the likeness of Christ quickly. We took our place at the table Friday morning and this much time later (imagine index finger of each hand approximately shoulder width apart) our hearts became one.

The love was so strong that we drew a bit of attention a few times. Our roaring laughter to weeping in sorrow was nothing less than God’s heart in all of us sharing our joys and pains.

I have discovered that Christ still appears in the flesh today. Oh, yes, he has made his dwelling place in the hearts of individual men and women. But his flesh appears when those men and women join together as a body with one heart.

Claire, Jill, Dara, Kendra, Judy, Marge, Barbara – you are my new best friends.

De Colores!

They didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: "It's really happened! The Master has been raised up--Simon saw him!"

Luke 24:33-34

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Church of the Tin Woodman

Warner Brothers left out some of the best parts of the original story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum written in 1900. You can read the entire book online at Chapter Five tells why the Tin Woodman wants a heart. The Woodman character came to mind as I read Revelation this morning.

Revelation 2:1-7

1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: "The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: 2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. 3 You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent. 6 Yet you do have this: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 "Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Do you see that in the church today? Do you see it in yourself? Just as with the Woodman, losing your heart doesn’t happen all at once. And, based on my experience, it is a daily battle to hang on to it.

In Genesis 29, Jacob begins working for the love of his heart - Rachel. Laban, Rachel and Leah’s father, pulls a bit of deceitfulness on Jacob. Instead of giving Rachel, he gives Leah (the older daughter) to Jacob in marriage. Jacob is disturbed but realizes to get what he wants, he must submit to the authority he is currently under.

Jacob abides by Laban’s stipulations because he remembers his first love. Jacob uses the time of the agreement wisely. He implements a shrewd plan of his own. Some may see it as deceitful but I see it as an intelligent business plan.

Jacob does not allow his 14 years of work to distract him from his heart motivation.

Jesus is another example of staying true to his heart. Can you imagine having the accusations thrown at you as Jesus did in those three and a half years of ministry and not being distracted from your purpose?

We’re talking about God in the flesh of one man here. Jesus Christ could have shut up anyone he wanted. He did not need to form a protest rally or have people sign a petition against the religious or Roman rulers of that day. He could have spoken a word and changed everything in the twinkling of an eye. But he didn't.

He stayed focused on his first love – the children of God. Ah, were you expecting me to say his first love was God the father? The fullness of God was in Christ; therefore, his first love was the first love of God the father. Jesus even asked the Father to forgive those who were crucifying him on the cross. He loved people - God's creation - God's children.

Jesus gave two commands, love God and love others. When we love God, he gives us his Spirit.

I sometimes want to focus my love only on God and wipe out all those who spit on the name of Christ. But to be like Christ is to keep my focus on God’s first love – his children.

Matthew 18:14

In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish.

I am so thankful for those whose heart was focused on me 17 years ago. There were plenty of Christians who belittled me with their pious comments; who fought back when I questioned their “acts of love.”

But there were two who loved me and listened to me right where I was. They did not accuse. They did not pretend to be superior in knowledge or righteousness. They did not offer a list of dos and don’ts. They simply loved me. By their love, I discovered God’s heart.

Have you lost your first love? Are you made of tin? When you look around, do you see the wrong in people? Or do you feel the tears of God’s heart? Do you recognize that God sheds tears for you in the same way he sheds tears for those you protest against?

1 John 4:7-13

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God – for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. 13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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