of closeness that God hopes for us in the church – that we’re to be connected as friends. And that is challenging sometimes, because we come from so many different backgrounds, and ways of being in the world, and different places.
Mk. 12:25 – Jesus said, “For when they rise from the dead, they will neither marry or are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven.” He’s talking to some people about the resurrection – to the Sadduccees. People aren’t going to be married in the Kingdom, so there won’t be any marital relationships – no sexual relationships. So what kind of relationships are left? Well, there’s fathers and sons, brothers and sisters, right? But you know, in the psychological literature, when they talk about sibling love, they lump it in with friendship love, because it’s essentially the same. It’s non-sexual. And it’s relational. Sibling relationships are equated with peer relationships in the Bible, too, aren’t they? Because we’re brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet, we’re friends, we’re told – all friends in the Kingdom of God. This fact, I think, is marked by some of the things that we see in this life.
I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the benefits – or the modern findings – about friendship. We’ll learn what science has learned about it. Friendship is common to all cultures. Every culture is filled with it. It’s human. It’s not cultural. Now maybe the way people make friends in different cultures is different. But it’s something common. It’s just something people do. And we know God does it, too, don’t we? He was friends with Abraham. We’re made in God’s image. So, we’re going to be like that. That points to the idea that friendship is going to be a part of our life for all eternity. So what does that say about what we’re supposed to be doing with it now? We’re actually hardwired to be friends with other people. The brain mappers are learning that the human brain is wired for relationships. We need relationships. We need families. We need friendships.
I was watching the history channel – I guess right after we got here one evening. They read some of John Adams’ wife’s letters that she wrote to him while they were in the process of forming this country. And she addressed him as Friend in her letter. They were a lot more formal in their writing back then. But she called him a friend. What a great basis for a marriage – a friendship. Mrs. J and I still have a running debate about the nature of our relationship, going back to 1968 when we were buddies in college for nine months. I bet her a beer that I could get a better grade on a test than she got. And I bet her a beer because we were so poor we didn’t have enough money to rub two nickels together. There was a place right near the campus that had really cheap beer. So, I figured that I would win anyway, but I didn’t want to…. She won. So, we went over there and she drank this beer – her prize. And she’s never drunk another beer since. And I wanted a beer-drinking woman. I mean, I knew her really well, but there’s always more to learn, isn’t there, about our mates?
Let’s talk about some of the benefits of friendship. Fun. Most friends are fun aren’t they? It’s fun to have friends. I remember one of my best friendship memories from back a few years ago when I pastored a church in the bay area of California. I’d moved away, and I came back to go on a backpacking trip with some of the teenagers there. It was in the winter time, which is okay weather, right, in California. You can’t go in the summer because it’s too hot. And the winter’s okay. So we went into the Ventana Wilderness. It was kind of damp. It was over a Christmas break. I remember one evening I was sitting on this big log – right in the middle of it – right in front of the fire, keeping warm. And Donna comes up and sits down beside me. Now, Donna’s a girl that has some family problems, and we spent a lot of time talking together. She sits down beside me, and says, “I’m cold, Mr. Jacobs!” We’re both bundled up like a Michelin man, you know. We’ve got down jackets on and everything. I said, “Oh, okay.” So she sits down beside me. Then Tracy comes up and sits on the other side of me, and says, “I’m cold, too, Mr. Jacobs.” And she sits down by me – pretty close. And then Paul comes up, and he sits on Tracy’s lap. He’s Tracy’s brother. And he’s a great big, gangly kid. I used to go watch him throw baseballs. He’d strike out fifteen guys in a row – stuff like that. But he sits on his sister’s legs, and he says, “I’m kind of cold, too.” Then he swings his legs around over me, and puts them over Donna. So, you get the picture. Now I’m packed in on two sides with big, heavy legs over me, and they know that I’m deathly ticklish. So, the only thing that saved me was my Michelin-man padding. They couldn’t get through it to really tickle me good. I had to knock them all off the log and scramble for my life! You know they had to plan that, right? The way they did it. It was all well-thought out, orchestrated. That’s because they liked me. They loved me. They were my friends. So they were giving me a hard time. I think about that every now and then – fun thing.