My granddaughters love Beauty and the Beast. Maybe almost as much as their mother and grandmother. Recently our oldest granddaughter spent the night and we watched the non-animated remake of the classic movie that my daughter loved when she was a little girl. Like so many kids’ movies now, some of the humor is aimed at us as adults. Such was the case while we watched the Beauty and the Beast remake.
While the village dances in the pub and sings about Gaston’s glory, Gaston tells his friend, “LeFou, you’re the greatest. I can’t understand why some girl hasn’t snatched you up by now.” LeFou responds, “I’ve been told I’m clingy. But I really don’t get it.” I laughed, while the humor went right over my granddaughter’s head.
Clingy. It’s NOT the label we want as a friend. Except in one friendship.
Last weekend, Mosaic launched a series in 1 John called Friendship with God. (Spoiler alert: it’s about friendship with God!) Growing friendship with Jesus is the goal the Apostle John has for the churches he pastors. This friendship is marked by TRUTH, LOVE, and LIGHT/LIFE. We’ll engage these 3 themes all fall. But the goal of these themes are the same—a grounded and growing friendship with God.
Here’s where that scene in Beauty and the Beast comes in. If you were to read 1 John in one sitting (hint: it only takes 25 minutes to do so), you’d find that the word “abide” is used 24 times! John tells us to abide in love, abide in light, abide in truth, and abide in Christ. Abide means “to dwell, endure, or remain.” Abiding is clinging.
Could it be that Jesus wants clingy friends?!
We are repelled by clingy friendships. Yet Jesus is drawn to them. He commands them.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4 ESV).
Why would Jesus command us to cling to Him like this? Because it is the ONLY way we will produce the fruit of Jesus in and through our lives. And fruitful friends are the only kind that glorify God.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8 ESV).
There’s so much we can say about friendship with Jesus (and we will over the next 3 months). For now, let’s keep the goal clearly in view—friendship with God is both the means and the end of the spiritual life. As Christians, it’s our journey and our destination. And this happens as we cling to Jesus… abiding in Him more intimately.
That’s our journey together this fall. Each week, read through 1 John in one sitting. Pray it through in your alone times. Talk it through in your small groups. Let it do exactly what John said it would do:
“We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy” (1 John 1:3-4 NLT).
Mark Schatzman is the Congregational Leader and Teaching Pastor at Mosaic.