The rain is falling steadily with regular flashes of lightening and rolls of thunder. We really don't need anymore rain right now with all the flooding we've had around Minnesota, but tonight, it feels right. I'm in a sad, somber mood and it feels like God has sympathy. You see, even though Jesus is rejoicing with His saints, we are mourning the loss of that bright light that is gone from this world. This morning, Mike and I, celebrated the life of one of our dear friends, Rev. Dr. (was that the right order?) Gary Downing. Gary Didn't want to call himself a Christian, but instead, was a self-professed "Friend-Maker for God" and lived his life to do exactly that.
One of the things that really struck me this morning was the legacy that was left behind. Gary was always a man that was intentional with building relationships. It is through building intentional relationships with other people, we can introduce them to the living Jesus. We can show them that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in us through our words, actions, and even our mistakes and how we deal with them. I always thought I understood what Gary meant when he said he was a Friend-maker for God, but today, Gary imparted a last bit of his great wisdom in me.
"Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also. Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ. God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ's behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends! Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.
In our work together with God, then, we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted. Hear what God says:
"When the time came for me to show you favor, I heard you; when the day arrived for me to save you, I helped you."
Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favor; today is the day to be saved!"
2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2 (Good News Bible Translation)Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.
This is what it means to be a Friend-maker for God and this is truly how Gary lived his life. He lived his life to "Make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ."
Thank you, my friend, for even in death, you are teaching me still. I am so thankful that we are a people of hope and I know I will see you again in Glory. I will cherish the friendship that you and Kathy gave to our family and hold tight to the lessons you taught us. Go in peace, my friend, and rest in the loving arms of your best friend and Savior, Jesus Christ.