‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me (Randy Newman)
In 1995, Pixar Animations completed and released to the ‘big screen’, for many children (and adults), an amazing animated film, which when it debuted, was all about friends helping each other, with the main featured song being;
‘You’ve got a friend in me’ (Randy Newman – 1996).
Friends should help each other shouldn’t they?
And family, well, that should be a foregone conclusion.
Isn’t that how it goes?
When Jesus started his ministry, he went around and about the local area, healing people, and teaching them through the use of parables (a parable is a simple story that people can relate to, and teaches a moral or spiritual lesson). In reality, just being a friendly person to all he met.
In essence, Jesus was travelling the country, saying through his actions, that he was their friend by virtue of him helping them.
‘Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose our family.’ (Jem in – To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 1960).
Yes we can choose our friends, and we tend to do that with great care, and no, you cannot choose your family, you are stuck with them in some cases, but Jesus gave us a command that really nullifies all boundaries when looking at friends and family, in fact it concerned all people.
‘A new command I give you:’ so basically, the choice about whether we comply or not has already been taken out of our hands, if we are a Christian and trying to live as Jesus did; ‘Love one another.’ That does not seem to hard does it, we generally do tend to love our family members, and some friends too, maybe, but Jesus then continues, ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV).
Love one another as Jesus did, a selfless love, looking for the needs of others above you-self, putting the well-being of others first; that may be possible for family and some very close friends, but everybody?
Is that not going too far?
Not according to Jesus.
In Matthews Gospel, Jesus seems to take this command further, when teaching a large group of people on a mountainside. His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is probably one of the most well-known parts of the Bible; and he says;
‘You have heard… love your neighbour’
What!!!? When they play loud music at night and keep me awake when I have work the next day? When they are rude to me in the street, or ignore me when I speak, or when take my parking space, or fill my bin with their rubbish so that I cannot use it?
‘I tell you, love your enemies’ now this is getting really hard, next to impossible for some of us, ‘pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44 NIV).
Who can accomplish this?
The answer to that question, is really very simple, because on our own, no-one can accomplish this.
We need Jesus!
We cannot ‘not love’ our neighbours, or even enemies, and say that we love Jesus, that would be wrong;
‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19 NIV).
We need his strength to do the hard tasks!
‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 14:5 NIV).
We initially, and then continually need his forgiveness!
‘For if you forgive… … your heavenly Father will also forgive you’ (Matthew 6:14 NIV).
We need his grace, always!
‘For it is by grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).
‘But to each one of us grace has been given’ (Ephesians 4:7 NIV).
When we have Jesus, our friend, on our side, forgiveness and love become a little easier for us to share, because we realise, and know what has been given to us through the mercy of God. And when we need help;
‘he gives us more grace’ (James 4:6 NIV).
These days with social media making such an impact on the lives of so many people, it is very easy to get sucked in. People have hundreds of ‘friends’ but they know only a fraction of them. We can friend people and un-friend them, it is so easy, just click a button and it’s done.
With Jesus, we can also be his friend or not, but being a friend with Jesus brings us so much more than we can get without him.
I truly believe that Jesus want to be our ‘best friend’, Jesus wants us to be with him forever, he even has a place all ready picked out for us, he told his disciples that their places would be ready for them, so why not us;
‘I am going there to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2 NIV).
Could the words of Randy Newman have been spoken by Jesus? Who knows, all that I know is that Jesus is my rock (Psalm 63:6), the foundation for my belief, he save me by his amazing grace (Ephesians 2:8), he loves me and has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants us to be with him in glory (John 14:2).
I believe that Jesus could have said these words to me;
You’ve got a friend in me. When the road looks rough ahead, and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed. You just remember what your old pal said, boy, you’ve got a friend in me’(Randy Newman – 1996).
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer
What a Friend we Have in Jesus
(Joseph Medicott Scriven – 1819-1886)
“You have liberty to cast all your cares upon him who cares for you. By one hour’s intimate access to the throne of grace, where the Lord causes his glory to pass before the soul that seeks him — you may acquire more true spiritual knowledge and comfort, than by a day or a week’s converse with the best of men, or the most studious perusal of many folios.”
John Newton, The Letters of John Newton
Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to be our friend. Help us to be worthy of his friendship, and of his sacrifice for us. Lord we want to see Jesus lifted high, and the glory going to you, help us to be beacons of light for you in an otherwise dark world.