Christianity: A One-sided Rescue For Frenemies

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 

There is a great comfort when you have a friend.  It feels good to have a friend – someone in your corner in this life.  A friend can be at your side when a struggle or conflict arises.  A friend prevents isolation and loneliness.  A friend gives you a sense of belonging and purpose.  Friends can boost your happiness and reduce your stress.  Friends can improve your self-confidence and help you cope with traumas such as illness, losing a job, and the death of a loved one.  A friend will play with you on the playground, will defend you from a bully, and stand up for you when you are teased.  Friends are good.  

What isn’t so good, though, is an enemy.  It does not feel good to have an enemy, for enemies often want to harm or destroy us in any possible way.  Enemies are often jealous, covetous, full of anger and hate, and want to overthrow us. Enemies can make us feel alone, isolated, and weak.  

As bad as an enemy can be, perhaps what is even worse than an enemy is what we call a ‘frenemy.’  Yes, you heard that correctly – frenemy.  The word ‘frenemy’ takes the word friend and enemy and mashes them together to make one word.  And so, a frenemy is a person who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy. You know, a frenemy is like a kid on the playground that asks you to be a part of his team, only to humiliate you in the end by drawing you close for the purpose of embarrassing you.  A frenemy is someone who befriends, only to leverage against you for their own personal gain.  

Now, we all like to think that we are good friends; however, if we were to be completely honest, we would recognize that we all have enemies in this world in which we are often not kind.  Furthermore, we often go the route of being a frenemy as well.  Perhaps you haven’t done this overtly to anyone around you; however, all of us in this sanctuary, at one time or another, have been a frenemy to God almighty.  

Now, this may sound a bit shocking to hear, for we all like to think that we are friendly with God; however, since the beginning of time, mankind has been an enemy of God, or worse yet, a frenemy. For example, all of us want to be friendly to God because, well… He is God.  We think to ourselves: 

“Being a friend of God can potentially bring all sorts of benefits to a person – maybe health, wealth, and happiness.”

But at the same time, we are torn.  You see, on the one hand, we want to be friends with God.  We want to do good; we decide one way – God’s way.  But then, there is a part of us that doesn’t want to do things God’s way.  Yes, there is a part of us that covertly rebels against God as our friend.  There is a part of us that wants to do things our way and gets angry with God for thinking anything otherwise.  And so, part of us wants to be a friend of God, and the other part of us, deep down, gets the better of us every time. And so, while we want God, we can simultaneously get frustrated with God.  And then when we think He is not listening, we mumble, 

“I’m going to do it my way!”  

It is true; more often than not, we give lip service to God, but deep in the caverns of our hearts, something has gone wrong and gets the better of us every time.  

What is a person to do?  

Dear friends, that Christmas long ago, Christ Jesus was born for humanity.  He was not born for friendly humanity, but He was born for enemies and frenemies of God.  You see, the fact of the matter is this – humanity has never been capable of being friendly with God.  In fact, we often put the blame on God, as if He is our enemy.  But truth be told, the onus is on you and me.  We are to blame.  Adam and Eve made a mess of this relationship with God from the very beginning, and you and I have been perfecting it ever since.  Sure, we often desire to do good and to be friendly with God, but sin has a way of sabotaging our best intentions.  In the end, if we are not outright enemies of God, well… we are certainly frenemies with God – nice some days and nasty on other days.  

And so, as we have just heard, this is the reason why Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem long ago. He was not born in Bethlehem for good people, for there is no such thing as a person who is truly good.  Instead, He came for enemies and frenemies of God.  He came to reconcile you and me to God.  

But there is a catch to the birth of Jesus.  You see, when it comes to our friendships, they demand the work of both parties involved in the friendship. For a friendship to exist and for enemies to be reconciled, it typically takes the involvement of two people.  Friendships are two-sided.  To be a friend with someone involves a reciprocal friendship back.  And when there is a conflict with a friend, and they become your enemy, in order to make things right, both people have to work it out together.   Again, friendships are two-sided.  

However, when it comes to Christianity, Christianity is one-sided.  You see, “Christianity is a one-sided rescue that we didn’t want and certainly did not deserve, yet Jesus did it anyway.” (R. Rosenbladt)  In other words, to make you friends with God, your Lord Jesus Christ had to do it all alone.  He had to come for you, die for you, and rise for you.  And so, through Jesus Christ, you are no longer an enemy and no longer a frenemy – but friends with God.  You are a friend of God because Christ settled your relationship with God once and for all through His accomplished reconciliation on your behalf.  

Baptized Saints, Jesus gives you a fresh start with God.  In Christ, your old life is forgiven.  And for all those times that you fail yet again – when you have tried everything, and nothing helps… the answer is that Jesus sets things right in this life for you before God almighty.  When you fail to serve God with your whole heart and mind, when you find yourself being an enemy or frenemy of God – take comfort! This fateful dilemma is resolved.  In Christ, you are not an enemy or a frenemy – there are no black clouds over you.  Jesus Himself was born to take on the human condition – He entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity to set it right once and for all – to make you a friend of God as a sheer gift. 

And so you are this day – a friend of God.  You are reconciled with God because Jesus was born for you.  You are reconciled with God because Jesus lived for you.  You are reconciled with God because Jesus died and rose for you. 

Christmas is the beginning of the one-sided rescue of humanity – to make you friends with God…. Reconciled!   

In the name of Jesus.  Amen. 

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