A few minutes before 8:00 PM Ernie and I were sitting in recliner chairs in my basement family room looking up at a 55” TV screen waiting for the tip-off of the U. of A. basketball game. I’d muted the sound while the commercials ran and that’s when Ernie said, “You know our friendship with Jesus has benefits.”
Did I hear him right? Questioning I said, “Say what?”
“Friendship with Jesus has benefits.” Ernie repeated.
Playing along I said, “Benefits like what?”
Not hesitating Ernie said, “Peace of Mind.”
I scratched my chin. “Peace of mind?”
I glanced at the TV screen. A car insurance ad was on. I could see peripherally that Ernie was looking at me. “Yes, as in freedom from doubt and worry,” he said.
Distracted, I said, “Wow, that’d be nice, huh? … Anything else?”
“Um absolutely, you want another benefit?”
“Sure. Why not?” The TV looked like the announcers we’re highlighting the basketball players that were about to take the court.
“OK, well, how about the benefit of kindness.”
I admit I didn’t give Ernie my full attention. Still, I sort of paid attention. “Hum. How does kindness work?”
Ernie rushed to say, “Let me give you one more … self-control.”
Annoyed I said, “So how do you get these benefits, peace of mind, kindness, and self-control?”
Ernie looked serious. “Benefits are made possible by the Holy Spirit.”
A little offended my face flushed. “Wait a second, that’s a given.”
Ernie ignored me. “The genuine benefits are a result of cooperating with the Holy Spirit.”
“Sure, I get that.”
“Jesus said it this way, remember? ‘Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. John 15:4-5.’”
I protested. “Come on Ernie, I know this.”
“We miss out on benefits we could be enjoying because we don’t cooperate with the Holy Spirit and doubt that Jesus makes any difference in our every day life. In our relationships at work, in our marriage, or with most anything else.”
“So, you’re saying I’m missing benefits?”
“I’m afraid so.” Ernie wrapped it up by saying, “Our relationship with Jesus has benefits that offer us, among other things, peace of mind, kindness, and self-control.”
“OK … fascinating.” I admitted, without committing. I hit the mute on the TV remote. Our team controlled the tip off. I would have to think later about this concept of ‘Friendship with benefits’ and what I may be missing.
Bonus song: Angela Cruz All His Benefits
Maybe this has happened to you, maybe not.
I’ve become frustrated because I have this extraordinary wealth from God and haven’t learned how to take hold of it.
What I’m saying is all my religious learning and practice hasn’t made me savvy enough to open up the treasure chest Christ has made available to me.
This treasure chest, which will meet my every need and desire and hope, is visible before me.
Time and again I’m disappointed because, although I know this treasure exists, I don’t know how to use it. That’s nuts.
So, I’ve decided it’s time to change my behavior. It’s time to stop living in poverty (so to speak) … especially spiritually.
I mean imagine what would happen if I actually began to take and apply what God has handed over to me in Christ Jesus?
Thinking about this I spent a few minutes listing real possessions I should be enjoying. Then afterwards, I examined what I’d written.
Then I cried.
I cried because the list is long of what I could delight in, but don’t.
This makes me sad.
It makes me sad because I could have better.
I want God’s best … how about you?
Thanks for listening to Lee’s Nite Radio.