Ernie and I were reclining in easy chairs in my basement family room looking up at a large TV screen waiting for the tip-off to the basketball game. I had the TV muted, while the commercials ran and that’s when Ernie said, “You know our friendship with Jesus has benefits.”
“Friendship with Jesus has benefits.”
“Benefits like what for instance?”
Without hesitating Ernie said, “Peace of Mind.”
“Peace of mind?”
“Yes, as in freedom from concern or worry.”
“That’d be nice. Anything else?”
“You want me to list another benefit?” Ernie asked.
“Sure. Are there any others benefits?”
“You mean relevant benefits that make a difference in your everyday life?”
“Um, yes, there’s the benefit of kindness.”
“OK. How does kindness work?”
“It’s empowered by the Holy Spirit,” said Ernie.
“Yeah but, how does kindness work itself out in a practical way?”
“The kindness benefit is activated and realized by cooperation with the Holy Spirit.”
“That’s right, you have to cooperate because you are unable to sustain kindness on your own.” Ernie explained.
“You think so?”
“Absolutely. The benefit of kindness and peace of mind are set in motion by cooperation with the Holy Spirit.”
“Why?” I challenged. “Says who?”
“Where?” I pressed.
“Lots of places.”
“Alright. Jesus said ‘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.’”
“Wow! OK. That’s a good one.”
“And there are more benefits, which are often called fruits.” Ernie informed me.
“What are you thinking about?”
“I’m thinking about self-control.” Ernie glanced over at me.
“Oh … and you know this is a benefit because?”
“There’s constant spiritual warfare going on. Therefore, cooperation with the Holy Spirit is the only way to experience this benefit of self-control during a spiritual battle.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“I am certain, because I’ve tried self-control by using will-power and will-power isn’t enough.”
“Why is that?”
“Again,” Ernie said, “because it takes cooperation with the Holy Spirit to achieve real, long lasting, self-control.”
“I see how that may be true …”
“We miss out on benefits we could be enjoying because we doubt that Jesus makes any difference in our relationships at work, in our marriage, or with most anything else.”
“You’re saying I’m missing benefits?”
“I am. Actually, we all are. Because we don’t reckon John 15:4-5 has any practical application for where we live.”
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.”
“Hmm … fascinating.” I admitted, without committing. I hit the mute on the TV remote as the basketball teams were tipping off.
I thought, ‘Friendship with benefits, what a concept.’