Things were tough on Ted when he was born. He was born in Chicago in 1942 to Polish parents. His father was a sausagemaker and his mother took care of the boys. He was hospitalized when he was only six months old after he suffered an allergic reaction to a drug given to him. During that time he was neither held or hugged by his mom and dad – doctors orders. When he came home from the hospital he was described by his mom and dad as listless and withdrawn.

Ted’s early childhood was one of continued withdrawal. His mother and father were bent on intellectual stimulation and would take him to museums and art galleries as a baby to try and stimulate him.

Ted sprinted through high school at Evergreen Park High. He avoided human contact, but did play in the band for two years, participated in the Coin Club, Biology Club, German Club, and the Math Club. He never struck his classmates as strange or weird – he was just withdrawn. In his early years he was described as a “discipline problem” by Robert Rippey, a retired math teacher at Evergreen Park High School. Discipline problems aside, Ted headed off to Harvard at age 16.

At Harvard Ted shared a preppy suite with five other guys. Michael Rohr, a roommate of Ted’s said, “I can’t remember having a conversation with him.” Patrick McIntosh says, “Ted had a special talent for avoiding relationships by moving quickly past groups of people and slamming the door behind him.”

Ted finished his degree at Harvard at age 20 and headed off for the University of Michigan where he received his Master’s and Ph.D., then he went to the University of California, Berkeley, to teach. University of Michigan professor, Peter Durea says, “Ted did not go out of his way to make social contact, but he didn’t strike me as being pathological. People in math are sometimes a bit strange. It goes with creativity.”

Finally, Ted dropped out of civilization and moved to Montana in 1971. In 1990, Ted took an even deeper plunge into isolation. His father committed suicide and Ted didn’t even attend the funeral. He said he had developed a heart arrhythmia which was made worse because of dealing with his family. Ted asked his family to draw a red line under the postage stamp to identify any “urgent and important” letters they might send. When they used the red line to identify the letter in which they broke the news of his father’s suicide, Ted wrote back complaining that the message didn’t merit a red line.

Ted continued to drop deeper and deeper into seclusion until finally the world became familiar with him, not by his name, but by the tag which had been given to the destroyer of human life – the Unabomber.

When his brother David suspected that Ted could be the Unabomber, he wanted to make a trip to Montana to speak to Ted. He wrote him a letter and waited for his brother to reply. The letter read, “Do not come to see me. I never want to see you or any member of my family ever again.”

What is it that causes folks to drop out of society and shun any possibility of friendship and fellowship with those around them? It is not just the eccentric hermits like Ted Kaczynski. The same scenario was lived out by such notables as Howard Hughes who was an American manufacturer, aviator, and motion picture producer. Howard Hughes was a multimillionaire who lived the last years of his life in seclusion outside the United States. Could it have been the numerous betrayals by friends, the fact that he was a busy man, or lack of willingness to develop strong relationships? I don’t know, but I do know that he died all alone.

Jay Paul Getty was another person who did well in life, but ended up living isolated and alone. Authorities say that after J. Paul’s son was kidnapped and held for an unbelievable ransom, he changed and was never the same again.

What causes folks to drop out? The reasons are as many as the grains of sand on the sea shore I’m sure. I can think of several reasons why people shun friendship. We get tired of being let down by those we are supposed to be able to trust. We don’t want to risk losing someone we love. We are just too busy for the time demanded in order to have real friends. If we truly reveal ourselves to a friend, they might reject us. It is too hard to maintain meaningful relationships. The list goes on and on. I know these excuses so well because I have used each of them many times. I have come to tell you today that none of these excuses will hold water.

The more I try to avoid close, intimate relationships and simply maintain acquaintances the more I am pressed by Almighty God to give up my fear, my laziness, my busyness, and lack of faith so that I might plunge into the pool of friendship.

Can any of you relate to what I am saying? I’m talking about real, intimate friendships. I’m talking about sharing from the depth of your soul. I’m talking about a person whom you can trust, one in whom you can confide with no reservation. I’m talking about someone who has been given the “real you” and has chosen to continue to love you. I’m not talking about someone with whom you can watch a good ball game, gossip, shop, or “do” lunch. I’m not talking about someone who you can call when you are bored and need to chit chat. How many are your friends? Who are your friends? Do you have any?

I have to tell you that preparing for this sermon has not been fun for me. Normally, when I spend time studying God’s Word and seeking to find a way to communicate God’s Truth to you in a way which will get through – I have fun. Not that I find my life in compliance with what I study in God’s Word, but fun in that God’s Word excites me and inspires me to seek to walk in Jesus’ steps. This week has not been fun. This week, the Lord has revealed to me that I am sorely lacking in friends. I’m not lacking in people who are willing to be my friends, but I am lacking in my willingness to allow people to get into my world, to share my struggles and victories, the intimate details of my life.

I meet with at least a dozen men each Wednesday morning who are more than willing to be my friend. Those men have my best interest at heart and I love them for that, but I hold back from them because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear that their image of what a “pastor” is will be something much more lofty than what I am. Fear that, if they know the true me, they won’t like what they see.

I can fully understand why folks who do not seek after God’s will for their life are willing to live their lives on the surface in relation to others. The fact is, I want to seek God’s heart which calls me to deep, life-giving relationships with others, with you, but it is a constant struggle. One moment I feel drawn to intimacy with others, but the very next moment I’m rationally explaining to myself why I just can’t. The reasons? I can’t reveal to you that I struggle with prayer. I can’t reveal to you that I struggle to spend quality time each and every day in the study of God’s Word. I can’t reveal to you that I struggle with why God does what He does? Now, none of those things are true. (I mean, I don’t struggle with them, but suppose I did – how would you respond?) Would I be fired as your pastor? Would you think less of me if I said I do struggle with those things? Would you look for another church home, a church where the pastor has his act together and is rock solid in every aspect of his life? What would happen? Those are the things that run through my mind just at the time I’m ready to really open up.

There are creative ways to cover up the fear and mask it in more respectable terms. This week the Lord has revealed to me one of the ways that I have developed to cover up my fear. The unveiling has been very disturbing to me and I want to apologize to you. I want you to always feel free to call me, to come see me when you need to talk, and to know that I care for you and your struggles. I have a feeling I have been causing you hesitation because I have been listening and what I hear disturbs me. I am hearing more and more, “I don’t want to bother Mike because I know how busy he is.” I am not too busy. If anything busyness is merely an excuse to keep people at arms length and I apologize to you if I have conveyed that message to you.

I think there are many of us today who are seeking to convince others that we are too busy for relationships so that we don’t have to take the risk of sharing in a deeper way with others. I’m not convinced that lying underneath our testimonies of lack of time rests the demon of fear, but I urge you to not allow yourself to become convinced that you are too busy for others.

We live in strange times. Lee Strobel has written a startling verse on the people of the 90’s. Lee says,

If you really are a person of the 90’s…”You feel like life is whizzing past you at 90 miles an hour. You work 90 hours a week, and you’ve still got 90 items on your to-do list. You’re on a 90-calorie-a-day diet because you look 90 pounds overweight in your swimming suit. “You’ve got 90 different bills to pay, and you’re already $90 overdrawn–and that’s just the interest. You’re still paying $90 a month on your student loan, and you don’t know where you’re going to get $90,000 to send your kids to school. “You’ve got 90 channels of cable television, and there is still nothing worth watching. You drive your kids to 90 different activities and events a month. Your toddler just asked ‘Why?’ for the 90th time today. And you think everything would be fine, if you were just making 90 grand a year.

I am convinced that if we convince people that we are too busy then we can shield ourselves from others knowing that they don’t want to bother us. I am really concerned about the perception that I must be giving some of you for I am increasingly hearing, “Mike is busy, I wouldn’t want to bother him.” I want to apologize for giving you that impression. I am not too busy for you and I hope that you are not too busy for me and for those around you.

The real struggle rest in relating, not in being too busy. I don’t feel alone in that struggle. I imagine there are many of your here this morning who fear allowing people to really know you, to know your fears, your weaknesses, your sin, your struggles. I understand what a struggle it is to overcome those feelings of fear, but I want you to know that I want more. I am inspired and challenged to move beyond my fear so that I can enter into the kind of relationships which I read about in God’s Word.

One of the great stories which causes me to yearn for meaningful relationships with others is the story of Jonathan’s friendship with David. There is every reason in the world why the two should not have been friends. Jonathan had too much at stake. It was a huge risk for him to allow his father, who hated David, to know that he loved him like a brother. I take great comfort in the story of Jonathan’s friendship with David. Jonathan was royalty, a son of the king who would inherit the throne when his father passed on. David was a shepherd boy, destined to herd sheep all of his life. Because of a strange turn of events David and Jonathan come together. Let me share with you what took place.

One day the Israelites were being taunted by a huge Philistine name Goliath. The problem was that none of the Israelites were brave enough to confront Goliath. Jesse, David’s father, had three sons who were armed and waiting for the courage to confront the giant when Jesse sent David to give them food.

When David arrived and heard Goliath spewing venom and mocking God he was incensed. David said, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26 NIV) Long story short, David kills Goliath and the people of Israel go crazy for David.

When David returned from the battle field, Saul asked who he was. As soon as David finishes speaking, we read in 1 Samuel 18:1-4

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. {2} From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. {3} And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. {4} Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:1-4 NIV)

The rest of their relationship was a constant struggle. Struggle, not because they didn’t love one another, but it was a struggle because Jonathan’s father, Saul, was constantly trying to kill his friend David. That put Jonathan in a bad situation. Can you imagine the tension that Jonathan lived with?

On the one hand, God had given Jonathan a friend. A brother who felt at one with, a brother who shared his heart. On the other hand, he had the potential to be King of Israel some day if he played his cards right. If he didn’t get caught up in the wrong crowd and disappoint old dad. David really had nothing to lose, but Jonathan had everything to lose. Jonathan was in a tough spot.

At no time did Jonathan ever fear David. They had a remarkable friendship. Early in their friendship though, Jonathan had to have lay awake at night and wondered what his father would think of his friendship with his father’s enemy. What would his dad do when he found out he loved David like a brother? Would the possibility of ascending the throne be withheld from him?

I don’t think Jonathan thought too much of the idea because as you read the story of their friendship you find that Jonathan’s love for David was so great that he was willing to stand up to his father. Jonathan overcame his fear of whatever would happen. He didn’t fear David knowing who he really was, he didn’t fear David rejecting his friendship, he didn’t fear his father ripping the possibility of his becoming king. As a result of Jonathan overcoming his fear some incredible things happened in his life with his friend David.

First, Jonathan was strengthened because of his commitment to David. I love the story about Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player. In his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play Major League baseball, faced venom nearly everywhere he traveled–fastballs at his head, being spiked on the bases, brutal epithets from the opposing dugouts and from the crowds. During one game in Boston, the taunts and racial slurs seemed to reach a peak. In the midst of this, another Dodger, a Southern white boy named Pee Wee Reese, called time-out. He walked from his position at shortstop toward Robinson at second base, put his arm around Robinson’s shoulder, and stood there with him for what seemed like a long time. The gesture spoke volumes of the love shared by Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson.

The first time that Saul spoke to Jonathan about killing David, Jonathan was silent. He left the meeting and told David, but while he was in his father’s presence, the Bible testifies to Jonathan’s silence. That is the last time Jonathan is silent when his father spoke harshly about eliminating David.

My friend, if you and I can overcome our fear and seek deep relationships with one another we will find our strength grow. The deeper the relationship the stronger the ties.

Secondly, David was strengthened because of his commitment to Johathan.

David’s life was on the line. Jonathan’s risk was losing the throne, but David’s risk was his life. In David’s greatest hour of need, when his soul was tormented by the constant threat of death, he was strengthened by his friendship to Jonathan. It would have been so much easier for Jonathan to have let David go it alone, but their commitment to one another would not allow them to do so.

On one occasion, after Saul had planned to kill David, Jonathan met him in the field and the two swore their allegiance to one another. In 1 Samuel 20:35-42 we read of their meeting.

In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, {36} and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. {37} When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” {38} Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. {39} (The boy knew nothing of all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) {40} Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.” {41} After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together–but David wept the most. {42} Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.'” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town. (1 Samuel 20:35-42 NIV)

Jonathan and David’s love for each other was a bond which could never be broken. Their love for one another was a great source of strength in the midst of incredible turmoil for both of them.

It is amazing how the characteristics of friendship shared by Jonathan and David are still just as valid today as they were in their day.

A group of fourth graders recently interviewed 198 people on what is most important in a friendship. They interviewed their families and friends. They also asked people on the Internet to join in their project. The students heard from a variety of places, from as close as Winnipeg to as far away as England and New Zealand. Here is what the students found:

1.Friends can trust each other. (24 responses)
2.Friends help each other.(23 responses)
3.Friends do things together. (18 responses)
4.Friends are loyal to each other. (14 responses)
5.Friends are honest with each other. (13 responses)
6.A friend is someone that you can talk to and who listens to you. (12 responses)
7.Friends share with each other. ( 8 responses)
8.A friend is there in the good times and the bad times. ( 5 responses)
9.Friends never judge you. They accept you for who you are. ( 5 responses)
10.Friends have fun together. ( 4 responses)

Do you find those characteristics in the relationship David shared with Jonathan? Did they trust each other? Did they help each other? Were they loyal to one another? Honesty? Were they there for one another in the good times and the bad?

All of these are wonderful characteristics of David and Jonathan’s relationship, but there is an even greater element to their friendship that bonded them together to the degree that nothing, absolutely nothing, could tear them apart. They were brothers joined together by God, and their faith was an unbreakable bond that weathered the worst of times.

Do you have a friendship like that? Is there a Jonathan in your life whom you can share your deepest concerns, and whom you can trust to be there in the worst of times? I pray that you will not allow the past failures in your effort to gain a friend to prevent you from seeking to be a friend today. Don’t allow your fear of what others will think of you, if they will reject you, or if you will learn to love only to later to lose prevent you from finding one you can love like a brother or sister.

We need one another like David needed Jonathan, like Ruth needed Naomi, like Paul needed Timothy. We must constantly be on guard against busyness and fear so that our relationships can run deep.

Next Sunday is “Friend Day.” Next Sunday can be the beginning of a brand new reality for you. The core of Jonathan and David’s friendship was spiritual, their commitment to God. If you are truly desiring a deep walk with another person you must start with a deep walk with God. I want to challenge you to invite a friend to join you in church and Sunday school next Sunday. Enjoy the fellowship that is made available to you by Almighty God as you take a risk and invite your friend.

If you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Savior, I want to encourage you to do that this day. You have no possibility of being a good friend or of having a good friend unless you know the One who makes friendship possible.

Who Needs Friends?
1 Samuel 18-20