Christmas in July is when retail reminds us that Christmas is around the corner. Many businesses create special promotions to encourage early shopping. The official countdown starts as QVC and HSN show us the latest in Christmas décor and holiday fashions. Buy now and pay later, no interest shopping and lay-a-way are the financial incentives given in every venue.
My church does a Christmas in July promotion of Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child so children who are on summer break can pack boxes to ship in November to children around the world. It is a fun month of loving and giving.
I am always reminded during these Christmas in July events of a special friend. His name is Jesus and he is the child born in Bethlehem. I was a young child myself when I invited him to be my friend, my Lord and Savior. I did not have any theology, but I had an immediate love for him when I understood that he gave his life on the cross of Calvary for me. From day one, our friendship has grown, and I have come to understand that he wants friendship with all who will ask for it.
Consider the words of Jesus in John 15:9-17 NKJV “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
Having a friend brings great joy! I remember the impact my friends had on me in high school. They laughed with me, cried with me, corrected me, and cheered me on as I navigated life. These friends still communicate, visit, and pray for one another via Facebook. At our reunion last year, we shared our life experiences with love and joy.
That is the way our friendship with Jesus Christ should be. Too many times we have been taught the God is angry and mad and looking for a way to send down judgement. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God the father sent Jesus his son to become our friend. Jesus freely shares with us things about heaven and the kingdom of God in the word of God and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He calls us friend.
A favorite, old hymn by Joseph M Scriven declares, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”
Israel Houghton penned a song about friendship with God that declares, “Who am I that You are mindful of me? That You hear me when I call. Is it true that You are thinking of me? How You love me! It’s amazing! I am a friend of God! I am a friend of God! He calls me friend!”
A classic Michael W. Smith song says, “ I’ll be your friend for a lifetime. Against the wind and the rain of every season. Won’t walk away in the hard times. I will be your friend. I’m saying I will be your friend.”
There are 198 different names and titles of Jesus in the Bible. My favorite relates to Jesus leaving his home in heaven and becoming one of us. It is “Immanuel”, God with us. Friends are always with you naturally, spiritually, and emotionally. Jesus Christ is always with us and his friendship is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He never gets mad and “unfriends” us. He is a forever friend. Do you have a vibrant friendship with Jesus Christ? He’s waiting for an invitation! Simply pray an ask for forgiveness of anything that you have done that would hinder your friendship. Ask him to be friend and a confidant. Enjoy his friendship and love all the days of your life and throughout eternity.