As we look back over our lives and we reflect on what has transpired, we can notice something. With each season we experience highs and lows.  It is in the difficult times that we realize who is a genuine friend. I am thankful for the genuine friends that have helped me through the challenging times in my life. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let me ask a question; are we genuine or imitation? Many times people say the right things, act the right way and fool us into thinking they really care for us. When in fact they are only motivated by what is in it for them. It is difficult to recognize a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I wonder if we have fallen into the trap of Hollywood, making things appear to be something they are not and have fooled those around us.

I am pleased that for the most part the people I deal with are genuine and real. My world is made up of some unique people, the kind you won’t find just anywhere. For the most part, they are genuine; actual, real, true, sincere, and honest. That doesn’t mean we will always agree, but most times you know where someone stands.

They feel for one another and care about each other, not only at church but away from church as well. I see this in their actions when someone is facing difficult times and needs support and encouragement to make it through; they are there; genuine friends to help in a time of need. I am reminded of a story in the Bible about some friends who demonstrated this.

Mark 2:1-12; A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,”Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Take a look at what these friends were willing to do; they knew their friend needed help. They also knew that Jesus was the one who could help. They carried their friend to Jesus. Regardless of what it cost them personally or financially, someone had to repair the roof, they wanted their friend to get what he needed.

Jesus, seeing the faith of the friends, provided what the man truly needed, forgiveness of his sins. The problem came when others questioned if anything really happened, after all who can see or know the forgiveness of sins.

That wasn’t good enough for those who were watching, they didn’t have the faith to worship what had been done for this man. They didn’t understand the transaction that Jesus made in that man’s soul.  They challenged Jesus about his authority to forgive. Jesus responded in a way that left no doubt, Get up and walk and the crippled man stood up and walked.

Let’s take a closer look at the scene. Jesus was visiting this town and so many people wanted to see him they crowded into the room, they left no room. They weren’t concerned about who may need what Jesus had to offer. In reality, they all needed what Jesus offered. Their focus was on themselves and the questions they had. When someone was brought to Jesus that had a true need they were unable to get to him because of the crowd.

We face obstacles that get in the way of bringing people to Jesus. How we handle them reveals our own faith. These friends had faith and knew they had to bring their friend to Jesus. So, they did whatever they could to get him there. They cut a hole in the roof, lowered him down in front of the crowd at Jesus’ feet.

Who were the genuine friends? Who were the ones willing to sacrifice for the benefit of someone else? Too many times we are crowded out, or we crowd others out of getting the help needed. We can be the crowd that blocks the way. We can be so focused on what we want we fail to look around and see what others need.

Genuine friends are sensitive to the needs of others. Not only that but they are willing to set aside their own lives to help provide for a friend in need. Which one are we? Are we the crowd that obstructs others from finding Jesus or are we the ones who, at all cost, will carry those in need to Jesus?

As we look back and reflect we need to honestly look at our actions. We need to determine if our actions brought people to Jesus or kept them away. Our actions reveal where our faith lies. My hope and prayer would be that we act in a way that reveals our hope is in Christ.

We are called to be the light that shows the way to Jesus, have we been lighting the proper path? Are we genuine or imitation?

Isaiah 40:3-5; Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”

Isaiah reminds us there is work to be done, making a highway isn’t done overnight. We have to fill in some holes, smooth out the hills, straighten a few things out and smooth out the rough spots. We may even have to cut a hole in the roof! It is worth the effort.


Pastor Don

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