Survivor: Sunrise Part 2
Building Your Alliances
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 4, 2003


Main Passage: 1 Samuel 20:1-17

Shera and I watched on Thursday evening as Christie voted out of the Amazon on Survivor. Her mistake? She refused to join a solid alliance. She had the opportunity, but she simply wouldn’t commit herself. As a result, people thought she was flip-flopping and not to be trusted, so they voted her out.

Alliances have always played a big role on Survivor, going right back to the very first season. You may remember Rudy, the rough-around-the-edges former Navy Seal who made it all the way to the last episode of the first season and had a good chance of winning. He said:

“My advice for anybody who plays this game is form an alliance and stick with it.”
~ Rudy Boesch

So in every run of Survivor, the participants have arrived with one purpose: to form an alliance which will get them through to the end. And the ones who have successfully formed an alliance and who have been faithful to it have lasted a long time and have even won. And no one has gotten to the end without joining an alliance of some kind. It has become the single most important part of any strategy.

But the idea of alliances was not invented by Survivor contestants. Throughout history people have found strength in alliances, and earlier in the service Shera read about just one of those alliances. It was the friendship formed between a prince and a shepherd boy: Jonathan and David. And it’s one of the most famous friendships in history.

So this morning we’re going to look at their alliance and we’re going to talk about the alliances we have in the form of friendships. We’re going to discuss how we can build strong and healthy relationships with each other, and how within the context of friendships we can experience the very best God has to offer us in life and in a relationship with Him.

A number of years ago a British publication held a contest and offered a prize for the best definition of what a friend is. And they received thousands of submissions. I’ll tell you what some of them were, but first what are some of your definitions?


Some of the submissions were:

One who understands our silence.
A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.
A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down.
And the winning definition: A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.

What I want to do this morning is give you the marks of a strong alliance. What are the marks, the indicators, the characteristics of strong, healthy friendships which honour God and honour each other?


Five Marks of a Strong Alliance:


1. Loyalty to Each Other

One of the reasons the friendship between Jonathan and David is so famous is the loyalty they had to each other. Jonathan’s father, King Saul, hated David. The prophet Samuel had named David as the next King of Israel, which meant that Saul would lose it. So Saul plotted to do away with David. He was going to kill him. But when Jonathan found out he was able to warn David, and David was able to escape.

But think for a moment what this would cost Jonathan. Jonathan was the oldest son of the king. You know what that means. He was next in line. But if David were to become King, that meant that Jonathan would not. But their friendship and their loyalty were strong enough that Jonathan didn’t care. All he was concerned about was saving the life of his friend, regardless of what it might cost him. Listen to what he told David when he warned David to go into hiding because of his father’s hatred:

1 Samuel 20:42 (NIV)
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.' "

Jump ahead. Years later, David becomes king. Saul had been killed in battle, and sadly so had Jonathan. But David did not forget his friendship. He had made a promise of friendship not only to Jonathan but also to all his descendents. So he sent for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth had a couple problems. First, he had a terrible name. Second, he had been injured as an infant and was crippled as a result.

Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul, the man who was obsessed with killing David. But he was also the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend. So David gave Mephibosheth all the land and property that belonged to Saul, assigned 36 servants to take care of everything, and invited Mephibosheth to live at the palace.

Loyalty means you keep your promise of friendship. Even if it costs you something personally, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it’s not the safe or popular thing to do. You keep your promise of friendship.

Near the end of the first of the Lord of the Rings films, Frodo decides he must go off by himself to complete his mission. And odds were this little Hobbit wouldn’t survive. But Sam wasn’t about to let Frodo go it alone. Watch:

VIDEO – Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Frodo & Sam in boat near end)

Sam had made a promise to stick by Frodo, and no amount of danger was going to make him break that promise. He would be loyal to the end.

Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.


2. Mutual Love and Support

Sing it if you know it:

PLAY SONG - Lean On Me (by Bill Withers)

Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow.
But if we are wise, we know that there's always tomorrow.

Lean on me, when you're not strong.
I'll be your friend. I'll help you carry on,
For it won't be long 'til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on.

Please swallow your pride, if have things you need to borrow.
For no one can fill those needs that you won't let show.

You just call on me brother when you need a hand.
We all need somebody to lean on.
I just might have a problem that you'll understand.
We all need somebody to lean on.

If there is a load you have to bear that you can't carry.
I'm right up the road, I'll share your load if you just call me.

Call me ( if you need a friend) Call me

I don’t know that it was written with this in mind, but that song is a great picture of what the Church is meant to be. We lean on each other. You offer love and support when someone else needs it, and you accept it when you need it. Of course there’s always risk involved with that kind of vulnerability, but no friendship grows beyond a superficial level without taking that risk.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labour. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.


3. Sense of Team

I love it when a team that’s not supposed to win surprises everyone and wins. I’ve been watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and teams like the Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks have shocked people by beating teams that, at least on paper, are much better than they are. And I love the Ottawa Senators this year. This is a small-market Canadian team with one of the lowest payrolls in the league who filed for bankruptcy protection this year and currently does not even have an owner. But they finished with the best record in the league this year and are a real possibility to play for the Cup.

Meanwhile you look at teams with high payrolls like the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Colorado Avalanche. They’ve either been beaten out of the playoffs or didn’t make the playoffs to begin with! What’s the difference? I would say that the teams that are winning may not have a roster of superstars but the players they do have understand this sense of team.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
~ Michael Jordan

So what does it mean to have this sense of team? It means you share some common values. Let me share with you what those values are:

Team Values:

  • Individual Growth

On a team, everyone improves. You challenge each other and learn from each other, and everyone is better for it.

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.


  • Each person is essential

In a strong alliance, just as on a winning team, no one is simply along for the ride. Every person is important, every person has something to offer. This is something we’re going to get into at the NetWork seminar next weekend. So for now, just let me share these verses with you:

Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.


  • Common Focus

In our context, our common focus is a love of and devotion to God. It includes introducing people to Him and helping each other grow in our faith.

Ephesians 4:3-6 (NLT)
Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.
We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.


  • Shared Experiences

If you’re a Don Cherry fan, you’ve heard him talk about the importance of having the team stay together in the hotel, eat meals together and spend time together. He claims that these things build unity and solidify the team. Ken Hitchcock, the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, made the news this week for doing that with his team despite the fact that they were playing at home in Philly. Instead of letting the players stay in their own homes, he booked rooms in a hotel and required the players to stay there. And it worked… they won the next game.

Romans 12:14-15 (NLT)
When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Live in harmony with each other. Don't try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!

Acts 2:44 (NLT)
And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had.

They shared their lives together.


  • Win-Win Mindset

In a strong alliance, you’re not just looking for what’s in it for you; you’re looking to see what you can contribute, too. The Musketeers had a slogan which sums this up:

“All for one and one for all.”
~ Musketeer Slogan

“There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves.”
~ Michael Jordan

Romans 12:10 (NLT)
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.


4. Believe the Best in Each Other

In a strong, healthy alliance, I put a “10” on your forehead and you put a “10” on mine. We believe and expect the best in each other. We encourage each other to reach for our potential and to go to the next level.

Philippians 2:1-4 (NLT)
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.
Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.


5. 1 + 1 = 3

In the business community this is called synergy. It’s when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT)
Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labour.

The point is that our alliances – our friendships – are important. We need them. We were created for them.

We spur our friends on when they feel like quitting.
We encourage them when all seems hopeless.
We celebrate with then over their victories and weep with them over their losses.
When our friends do something noble, we praise them in public.
When they do something awful, we correct them in private.
When others attack them, we defend them.
When others forsake them, we stick with them.
When the weight of life tries to crush them, we hold them up and share the load.
And our friends do the same for us.

That’s 1+1=3. That’s synergy. That’s you and me doing more and enduring more and growing more together than either of us could ever do alone.


I usually try to provide an opportunity for you to do something about the message. This morning, what I’ve done is this: I’ve included a few questions at the end of your notes for you to consider at your leisure. I’d encourage you to take a few minutes alone sometime – perhaps this afternoon – and go through them.


Application Questions:

1. Are you loyal to your friends, even when they are not present? Do you defend them when you hear others gossiping about them?

2. How do you respond when your friends turn on you? Do you retaliate in anger or do you patiently try to understand the issues?

3. Do you invest yourself into your relationships, or are you only interested in what’s in it for you?

4. Are you there when your friends need you the most, or is that the time you avoid them?

5. Do you believe in your friends? Do you put a “10” on their foreheads? Do you add value to their lives?




Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2003