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The Beauty of Friendship

Sermon Series:


Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Philemon 21-25


These words today is the day that the Lord has made so let us rejoice and be glad in it and everyone said amen.


And everyone said like they mean it.


Yeah, see I knew I had you you had it in you all right, so today we're closing up a sermon series looking at friendship and we're on week three the final week and I Know what many of you are thinking? There's no way we can get through a sermon series on friendship without talking about what is possibly the greatest friendship ever depicted in literature. And that's the friendship, you know what I'm talking about, between Frodo and Samwise Gamgee. Right? Where's my fellow geeks at, right? Okay. For those of you who don't know, let me learn you something here. The greatest, I think, the greatest friendship in fiction literature is depicted between Frodo and Sam.


I just think it's absolutely amusing, amazing. It comes from the story of the Lord of the Rings. That's a three-part book that was released some time ago, widely popular movies. How long ago were those movies? Don't tell me those like 20 years ago. Are you serious? I'm thinking about my life right now. 20 years ago? Wow. Okay.

So, The Lord of the Rings, three-part movie, three-part book. It centers on this fellowship. Now, you guys probably know this, but let me just, for those who don't, what we have here is there's this friendship between the Frodo, between the hobbits, Frodo Baggins of the Shire and his friend Samwise Gamgee. Now they, they were part of a quest, a fellowship of nine that was tasked with traversing the known land of middle earth up and down through thick and thin to go to the wicked and terrible and evil land of Mordor where they were to destroy the one evil ring that they were to hide and carry throughout their journey.

Now, near the end of the first book, this fellowship of nine begins to break apart. And Frodo, the littlest among them, realizes that he must go alone for the rest of the journey by himself on his adventure to destroy this evil ring. And so he sneaks away from the group, knowing that he's meant to go on his own. And his friend, Sam, realizes that he's sneaking off to go by himself. And so his friend, Sam, goes to chase him down. And just as Frodo is crossing the river to start the journey, the last part of the journey on his own, Sam calls out to him and wants to be with him. And calls out to him, and the movie's doing a phenomenal job of that scene, if you know what I'm talking about.

But I wanna read to you from the book how the scene played out. So Sam goes after his friend Frodo who's trying to leave on his own. And Frodo said to Sam, but I am going to Mordor. I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo, said Sam. Of course you are, and I'm coming with you. Now Sam, said Frodo, don't hinder me. I must go at once. It's the only way. Of course it is, answered Sam, but not alone. I'm coming too. Of course if you know the story, their friendship is just played out in just beautiful and heroic ways. And here's the reality. We all need a friend like Sam. And we all need to be a friend like Sam. We need someone in our life who's going to stand by us no matter where life takes us. And that's kind of what we've been looking at in this sermon series as we've been walking through the book of Philemon.

It's a short book we find in the New Testament. Today we're closing up a series looking at that letter, but specifically through the lens of the friendship that the Apostle Paul had who wrote the letter to his friend Philemon. Now if you've been with us through the series, you're probably sick of hearing about the context, but if you haven't been with us, you need to know what's going on behind the story. And so let me just take a step back and share the context. So important for everything that we look at in Scripture.

And so if you haven't yet, turn in your Bibles to Philemon. There's only one chapter. We'll look at verses 21 to 25, but here's the context. Paul, who wrote the letter, had led this man Philemon to faith in Jesus. And this letter reveals a lot. But the letter really keys in on this other man named Onesimus. Now Onesimus was a bond servant of Philemon. Now a bond servant was like a slave. They were a slave, but we just don't like to use that term because when Americans hear that term, we think of something very different than what happened in the ancient world. We think of what happened in the 17 and 1800s here in America when we had a chattel race-based slavery that was absolutely demonic and horrendous and evil. Now the ancient world also had slavery. It wasn't exactly or always race-based. Now in the ancient world, when this letter was written, bond servants, some of them at times could even hold high-level jobs, and some of them could even work their way out of slavery. So it was a different setup. I'm not defending either system. Both are horrible, and the Christian faith ultimately corrodes each of them.

But here's the story. So Onesimus was a bond servant, was a slave of Philemon, but Onesimus runs away from his master, and he runs to Paul. Paul's in prison at this point About 1,300 miles away in Rome so Onesimus runs away a runaway slave back in that day could have been killed on sight He runs away on this journey to go to see Paul Doesn't exactly say but it's easy to surmise that he probably went to see Paul hoping that Paul would grant him his freedom But while under Paul's care while Paul's in prison by the way, Paul leads Onesimus to a faith in Jesus. Now what's fascinating about this story, and when you read the book of Philemon, is that Paul is clear that he could command Philemon to release Onesimus and to grant him his freedom, but he doesn't. In fact, what he does is Paul, while he's in prison, he leads on this mess to faith in Jesus and then actually sends him back to Philemon with this letter that he's written.

Now in this letter, Paul says to Philemon, I could command you to do what's right. You know what the right thing is to do, but I'm not going to command you to do this. I'm not going to make you, I'm not going to make myself a master to you and tell you what to do. I'm just going to remind you of the gospel and let that call you to do the right thing. You've got a faith in the gospel, so you need to follow and do what God has called you to do. He places the burden back on Philemon. It's an incredible story if you actually sit in what's happening here. Paul says, I could command you to go against the grain of the culture and you could just simply release Onesimus.

I can command you to do that. But Paul says, I'd rather you do that out of your own faith and out of your own love for God. Paul says, I'd rather you do the right thing because you know it's the right thing, not because I told you to do it. Now you have to understand, you have to understand friends, Philemon was well within what was culturally appropriate if he wanted to keep on this mess as his slave file a man could have appealed to the world system he could have appealed to the culture at large for justification for keeping on this mess as his slave file a man could have tried to find some way to bridge his faith with what was culturally accepted and try to find some sort of middle ground is that what happens? Well, we're going to find out. But Paul, either way, is calling Philemon to a challenge.

A challenge to his faith and a challenge to the culture they live in. But what we've been looking at is that Paul was able to bring this challenge to his friend Philemon because of the common faith they shared in Jesus Christ. Because they both believed in the gospel, because they were Christian brothers. And so, we're going to see how this letter actually closes up today. And so with that, would you hear God's word? Philemon verses 21 to 25. Would you hear God's word?

Philemon 21-25

21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Amen, this is God's word, let's pray, and we'll continue.

Let's pray. Father in heaven above, Lord by the power and the presence of your Holy Spirit, we would ask that you would be with us today as we close up this series looking at your Holy Word. Please Lord, would you help us to see and to be reminded of the power of good and godly friendships? And not only this, would you help us to find those friends? Would you help us to be

that friend? And Father, we do pray these things for your glory and for our good and it's in Jesus name to pray these things and everyone said, amen. Amen.

So church, if I give you one thing for you to mull over on this day, as we look at this passage, it would be this. The beauty of friendship is found in how much it embodies the gospel.

The beauty of friendship is found in how much it embodies the gospel.

Now I'm sure you probably know, and maybe we'll see here today, that there may be some

friendships that unwittingly, unknowingly have similarities to the gospel. They're just not maybe rooted in the gospel. But I'm hoping that as we see this play out in our passage, that you will find friendships rooted in the gospel. Because when you do, then you'll be able to see some of the beautiful things about friendship that our passage points out. And here's what we're going to be looking at today. The beauty of friendship is that it makes the world a better place, like the gospel. Second thing we'll look at is the beauty of friendship is that it reminds us that we're not alone, like the gospel. And third thing we'll look at here this morning is that the beauty of friendship is that it brings us someone who cares for us spiritually, say it with me now, like the gospel.

The beauty of friendship is...

  1. that it makes the world a better place, like the gospel

  2. that it reminds us that we're not alone, like the gospel

  3. that it brings us someone who cares for us spiritually, like the gospel

1. The beauty of friendship is that it makes the world a better place.

So let's jump right into it. The beauty of friendship is that it makes the world a better place. Please keep your Bibles open in front of you. Let's look at verse 21 together. It says, Paul writes and says this, he says, Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. Okay, so the goodness of good friendships, I'm telling you, will spill out into the world. The goodness of good friendships will spill into the world and they will make the world a better place.

This is the difference between friendships and cliques. Let's talk about this for a second here. See what cliques do, and it's such human nature to get into cliques, but cliques, what they do is they exclude other people. And then they make you feel bad about not being part of that little group. But a friendship, a friendship is something that is not only to be admired, but friendships make the world a better place. I'm sure you probably guessed that as a youth pastor, I saw this time and time again. You have youth group and youth group gathers. Some kids in They circle up and they form a click. And no one can get in to that little circle because it's inward focused.

But every now and again, you get a group of friends and Jesus was at the center. And when Jesus is at the center, he makes you turn around and look outward. He looks, makes you look out to those who are lost and by themselves and to bring them in.

And every now and again, that youth group, you'd have a group of friends who weren't inward focused, but they would have eyes to see who was excluded, who was lonely, and they would embrace them and bring them in. That's what a good friendship does. It looks to bring others in. In our passage, in our Bible passage, Paul is saying, he's essentially saying to his friend Philemon, he says, I know that you will free Onesimus.

I know that you will do the right thing, but not only this, but I know the blessing that you'll give to Onesimus will expand beyond him. Did you see this in our passage? Paul says to Philemon, look at this key phrase here, you will do even more. What Paul is laying on thick for Philemon to do,

Paul even goes on, he doubles down and says, you will do even more than this. Paul knew this about his friend. Church, I could point out to some great friendships that impacted the world. I could point to J.R.R. Tolkien and his friendship with C.S. Lewis or Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla. We could talk about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

We could talk about Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. We could talk about the Winter Soldier and Captain America. Or we could continue to talk about Frodo and Samwise. And while there have been some great friendships that had massive impact on the world, we don't need to look elsewhere. What we see is a friendship before us that has changed the world throughout the generations. What we have in this passage is a friendship that made the world a better place because God in his infinite wisdom Recorded and kept alive this this letter between Paul and Philemon which has gone on to echo through the ages showing each new generation the beauty of the gospel and the beauty of friendship. The question I think we need to ask ourselves is kind of the obvious question here is - Did Philemon actually release on this.

Well, the truth is we don't actually know. The Bible doesn't say there's not really clues elsewhere in Scripture to point to this. Although I'll just say this for my my own thoughts. I will say that the fact that this story is in the Bible is proof enough for me that not only did Philemon release on this, but Philemon did go on to do other amazing things for the kingdom. And actually, if you follow some strains of Christian history and Christian tradition, one Christian tradition says that Onesimus was in fact freed, and not only that, but he went on to be a leader in the early church.

See, Paul and Philemon's friendship goes to show us the power of the gospel and how it creates godly friends who go on to do more good in this world. Gospel good. And if you have a good friend, you know that they will make you a better person. Otherwise, are they really a good friend? As opposed to maybe just a good acquaintance?

Yes, I have friends and connections who are not Christians, but my closest friends are the ones who are gonna draw me closer to Christ. Not to the exclusion of other people, but I'd say rather to their benefit. Because the more Christ-like I am, when I surround myself with Christ-like men who make me more Christ-like, that's a better friend I will be, that's a greater impact I'll have on the world. And just as an aside, I have a friend who is not a follower of Jesus, and I'm sharing the gospel with him, and I'll just ask you to pray for H, if you don't mind, in my conversations with him. But the beauty of godly friendships is that they make the world a better place, just like the gospel does. The gospel makes the world a better place when Christians get out there, open our mouths, and actually share it. The gospel is that Jesus Christ laid down his life for his friends, so that we would have an example to follow.

Do you remember, like, for those of you who went to Sunday school growing up, do you remember this, that story, very famous story in the Bible where Jesus actually gets down on his hands and knees and washes the feet of his disciples, of his friends? You guys know that story?

Remember what he said afterwards? Remember what he said?

I love this. John 13, verse 15, Jesus says this, after he gets on his hands and knees, the God of all creation bends down, gets his hands dirty, washes the feet, the stinking dirty feet of his friends, he washes their feet, and then he gets up and he says this, he says, I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.

John 13:15

15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

This begs the question, Christians in the house, have you ever washed another person's feet? Not symbolically, I mean actually. For those of you who follow Jesus, have you ever washed another person's feet? I will tell you now, I have, and it is an incredibly humbling experience. The more humble you are, the more Christ-like you are. If Jesus did it, we should do it. If you've offended someone, wash their feet.

If you love someone, wash their feet. I don't think Jesus was kidding when he actually did that and then got up and told us to do the same. Yes, symbolically do that, of course, but I think we actually have to do it. It's a beautiful thing that our Lord has done. I think we should do the same. This reminds us that the beauty of friendship is that it makes the world a better place when people are humbled and love one another.

It makes the world a better place just like the gospel. Because the Bible here, let me tell you, the scriptures, the gospel does not just tell us to do the right thing. It does not just tell us to do the good thing. The gospel tells us to do the godly thing. And that is different than the world's approach. We're called to do the godly thing. The second thing is that the beauty of friendship is that it reminds us that we're not alone.

2. The beauty of friendship is that it reminds us that we're not alone.

Like the gospel, Paul goes on to write, please look in your Bibles at verse 22, 22 to 24. Paul writes this. He says at the same time, prepare a guest room for me for. I'm hoping that through your prayers, I will be graciously given to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends his greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers." You see here, I love this, Paul talks about his friend group. Paul talks about his posse. Paul's talking about his squad here. And what's he called them fellow workers. They are co-labors for the kingdom. They do mission together. We've talked about this here. You want to, you want to have a friendship forged in the gospel, serve together, go on mission together, lead a high school Bible study together.

You will see amazing thing happen when you are fellow workers for God's kingdom. Ministry doing ministry together has a way to bind us together that playing sports and video games could never do. This is why I think making and having friends at church is such a value and such a benefit to our lives. Not only do we get to sit on the same preaching and process it together, we get to worship together and we get to serve together. Because having friends in the church community gives us a constant, a weekly reminder that we're not alone. I get it. We're busy people. We're doing everything all the time. How often do you get together with friends? Well, when you're part of a church community and you have friends at church, you're getting together at least once a week. And I think that's a beautiful thing. I happen to think there's great value in seeing people at church and this notion that we quote only see people at church.

For me, that does not diminish friendship. Rather, it raises it. It makes a value for going to church and have it part of our life. I've said it before, we know, we know the church is not this building. This building is where the church meets. We fully recognize that. And also God has given us this place here at 6950 Cherry Valley and when you walk into this place and see these people, yes, we want it to feel like home. We want when you walk in, no matter what your life was like the week before, we want this to feel like you can kind of unload. This is a place to be encouraged and loved, challenged, yes, but be reminded of the power of the gospel to overcome.

We want you to have family here. We want you to have friends here. Friends in our church community gives us a constant, at least a weekly reminder that we're not alone, and we're not alone just like the gospel reminds us and the gospel is that Jesus Christ died for our sins and in the greatest miracle there ever was Jesus Christ rose again from the grave and for 40 days after that he continued to minister with his friends and he continued to fellowship with them and one of the things he was doing during those 40 days is he was preparing them for a continued mission after he himself returned to heaven and right before Jesus returned to heaven, he said this to his friends.

He said, go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. What did Jesus just do here? He just told them to do ministry together. He just told them to go on mission together. Why? Well, because we're going to see people come to Jesus. But I think also in some some way underneath, he's also saying, because that's how you'll stay together. That's how you'll continue to be united when you're united around the gospel. And then Jesus says this last thing recorded in the epic gospel of Matthew. It brings me to tears every time I read this.

And then Jesus says this, he says, and behold, I am with you always to the very end of the age because our Savior doesn't leave us. He stays with us. We are never alone. This is the gospel that Jesus saves us and he never leaves us. Just like God promised way back in the Old Testament. Go back to Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy 31 says, it's the Lord who goes before you and He will be with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be, do not, do not fear or be dismayed. The beauty of friendship is that it reminds us that we're never alone, just like the gospel does.

3. The beauty of friendship is that it brings us someone who cares for us spiritually like

like the gospel.

And finally, the beauty of friendship is that it brings us someone who cares for us spiritually like

like the gospel. And then we're going to look at the very last verse, as we've been journeying through this passage together, this whole book together, the last verse, this is how Paul closes it, he says this, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits. We've been using this as our benediction, we will again today, but let's look at it real quick. Grace, Lord Jesus Christ, your spirit.

Firstly, grace. If you are a follower of Jesus, you better have the definition of grace on the tip of your tongue because it is the essence of your salvation. What is grace? Grace is how we are saved. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. You want to know what you deserve? You deserve condemnation. You deserve separation. You deserve eternal damnation for the sins we've committed against an internally holy God. But for those who follow Jesus, that's not because we deserve it, we definitely don't. It's because God is infinitely good and in his mercy and in his justice, he poured out his wrath upon his son, not upon us, who took our place on the cross so that our penalty could be paid for.

And then, when we place our faith in Jesus, God, even though he does not have to, even though we do not deserve it, God gives us grace and welcomes us to His table and into our heavenly home to be with Him. Grace is how we are saved. We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus.

When you place your faith in Jesus, that doesn't earn you salvation. It's through grace that we are given it, and it's through the Lord Jesus who stands in the gap who takes our punishment the punishment we deserve to give us the salvation that we don't deserve and that's called grace grace is at the core of the gospel and it's through Jesus so Paul is saying to Philemon and by extension the Holy Spirit saying to us through this word this last line the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, be with your spirits. Church, don't read past your Bible. Read every word.

Here's what Paul's saying here. Your spirit is your core being, it's your essence. Meaning the grace that we find only through Jesus needs to totally encapsulate us. It totally envelops our entire spirit, inside and out. Everything about us needs to be about grace. Grace be with your spirit. Not the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you when you're feeling down. Not the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you when you decide to show up for church. Not the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you when you're feeling good about yourself, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirits. It is who you are all the time. You are ever being reminded that every breath you take is an act of grace of God who does not have to give it to you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit. It is your identity. It's who you are. It's everything about you all the time. Today we're going to celebrate communion. Communion is a physical reenactment of a spiritual truth that is found only in the gospel, that as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are receiving into our physical bodies a representation of what has happened truly spiritually. And it's this, the grace of the Lord Jesus is with our spirit. When you enact this out physically, understand the amazing spiritual thing that is happening as you sit at the table of the King. And our hope and our encouragement in all this is found in the friend we have in Jesus.

So what about our friends? Well, as you know, in each message in this series, we've been ending with a friendship challenge. And so let me give you the last one for this series, and it's this.

In an unfriendly world, look to the gospel to find and be a true friend.

My prayer is that you have friendships forged by a common faith in the gospel, in Christ Jesus, as we embrace his message together. Friends that encourage your spirit with the grace that's only found through Christ. And I really hope that this church is a place where you can find those friendships. And so I wanna leave you with four things to challenge you on finding friends at church. So making friends in the gospel.

1. Consider Membership

Number one, here's what I'd say. Consider membership. If you've been attending peace for a while, make a commitment. In fact, we have membership classes starting next week. You can go to our website, you can go to our welcome booth, Talk with Chelsea, and get some information. Because here's the thing, if you become a member, we want you to know what you're signing up for. So come to our membership class. You can find out more about our philosophy and theology of a church, ask some good questions. Just because you take a membership doesn't mean you have to become a member.

But let me just step back and say this, before some of you consider membership, maybe what some of you need to consider is regular, consistent church attendance. Mmm, I heard that. Did you know in our day and age that when people fill out surveys, do you know what qualifies as regular church attendance nowadays? Once a month. You go to church once a month, you're considered a regular church attender. That's pathetic. That's pathetic. Don't sink to that level. Do not sink to that level. I guarantee your faith and the world needs much more than that. So consider regular church attendance or if you're already there I'd say consider membership. Again, we have classes starting next week. I'd love for you to join it. Just find out more about who we are, some of our theological distinctives.

2. Start Serving

Second thing, start serving. If you are a Christian, God has given you a gift to use to build his church, to build his kingdom. If you're not using it, try to justify that one before God. If you are a Christian, you are meant to be serving.

Because if you are a Christian, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit's given you a gift to be used in service of the common good for one another. So again, let's talk about where you could possibly start serving. Because again, serving together is a great way to forge friendships, especially in our larger setting.

3. Join a Community Group

Next, join a community group. These are smaller groups that meet off campus throughout the week, throughout the month. Great way to deepen friendships and connections. Again, you can talk with Chelsea at the Welcome Booth or we've made things really easy for you. You can go to our website, go to Fill out some just real basic information, then we will follow up with you and help you figure out how to take the next step.

But here's the thing, I've said this before, we're not a cult, we're not going to make you do anything, but we're going to invite you to do something awesome. And so let me leave you with one more. I said four, there's three up there, let me give you one more. Making friends in the gospel, when you come to church, let's end with this, simply start talking to people.

4. Start talking to people at church

A lot of you are real critical of the next generation because they only want to text. Do you talk to people? So guess what we're gonna do now? Y'all got name tags? Who's the rebels in here that put the name tag on the left side of their chest? I just, okay. Oh, a few of you. Okay. So here's what we're gonna do. Hold on, hold on. I ain't giving you permission yet. We are gonna end our time in communion. We're gonna end our time in communion, but here's what we're gonna do.

You're gonna talk to those around you. I'm gonna give you a question to start with. Everyone needs to ask this question so no one's embarrassed. How long you been coming to peace? And here's the thing, you don't get to sit down for that. Let's all stand up. Let's all stand up. Take a few moments and talk with people around you.

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