The first role Sozo ministers investigate with a person is Jesus’s function as our friend. While the significance of this concept may be diluted in contemporary society, understanding this relationship has the power to shape nations.
While on earth, Jesus demonstrated His friendship by communicating directly with His disciples. He involved them in His Father’s plans. Jesus acted as the perfect communicator:
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15)
Our human relationships with friends and siblings closely mirror our relationship with Jesus. Friends and siblings, like Jesus, fulfill our need of communication and companionship. Because of this, when issues arise in these areas, clients must connect with Jesus to meet these needs. Sozo ministers find that strained relationships with friends or siblings lead to skewed views of Jesus.
As children, we learn to communicate, build trust, and form relationships through friends and siblings. These relationships create in us an expectation for how we interact with Jesus. Either we see Him as a safe place of connection, communication, and growth or as a dysfunctional area in need of attention. Our relationship with Him is affected by whether or not we have had good connections with our friends and siblings growing up.
When a friend or sibling hurts our feelings, especially in our formative years, there is a chance that a lie from the enemy can develop. Resolving this issue in a safe environment can remove destructive patterns that seek to interrupt God’s purpose.
This is not to say that people will consciously block off Jesus after being let down by a friend. Rather, we tend to transpose hurts onto others in order to avoid pain. When a friend or sibling fails to supply a need, we may build a wall against that person who caused offense. This becomes an issue when we unconsciously build a wall between ourselves and Jesus.
Take, for example, James, an older gentleman who scheduled an appointment through Bethel Redding’s Sozo Transformation Center. Having been on his own for some time, James entered Sue’s office carrying a heavy burden. Though he did not speak of his pain aloud, she could pick up on his “sorrowful atmosphere.”
After spending a few minutes in discussion, Sue discovered the reason for much of James’s pain. As a boy, James had watched his younger sibling, Drew, descend into a spiral of depression. Unable to connect to his brother emotionally, James blamed himself for his brother’s suicide at the age of 16. Although clearly not responsible for his brother’s death, James could not shake his feelings of guilt.
Unfortunately, James carried this guilt throughout life. Not until now, in his late 60s, did he seek release. The first step he worked through was forgiveness. His feelings, long internalized, had grown to such a depth that they colored the way he saw himself and God. His unwillingness to move past fear and self-pity stunted his growth.
Sue asked James why he found it so difficult to release himself from judgment.
“Jesus wouldn’t forgive me,” he said.
“How do you know?”
“How could He? I let my brother die.”
“Do you want to ask Jesus and see what He thinks?”
“I already know what He thinks.”
“Why don’t we ask Jesus, anyway? If you’re right, we’ll move on with the rest of the session. If you’re wrong, you may experience breakthrough.”
With some reluctance, James agreed to meet with Jesus.
“Close your eyes. I’m going to ask you to remember a time when you tried to comfort your brother.”
James took a moment before deciding.
“If it becomes too much, we can move on. For now, I want you to close your eyes and revisit that specific memory. Are you there?”
James nodded. He quietly admitted that he had relived such memories nearly every day of his life since the death occurred.
“Repeat after me: ‘Jesus, would You show me where You were in this memory?’”
As if on cue, James doubled over. Sue slid a box of tissue beside his feet. Careful not to interrupt, she sat in silent intercession. (She did not want to distract James and keep him from encountering Jesus.) After several minutes, Sue asked James what he experienced. James opened his eyes. He pulled a tissue from the box.
“I saw Drew. He and Jesus were standing in the cafeteria of our old school. Drew always liked the food. After his death, my family pulled me out of the school and taught me at home.”
He paused. “I’m remembering when they took Drew’s body away by ambulance. As the medics lifted his body, Jesus embraced me and said it wasn’t my fault.”
James sunk in his seat. A moment of silence followed.
“How does that make you feel?” Sue asked.
James wiped his eyes. “I guess it’s time to move on and let Drew be with Jesus.”
“Are you ready to do that?”
“I think so.”
“Repeat after me: ‘I choose to forgive myself for not preventing my brother’s suicide. I ask You to forgive me, Jesus, for placing unhealthy guilt and responsibility on my life. I release myself from all self-judgment and I release my brother in Jesus’s name. Amen.’”
James repeated the prayer. Tears glistened on his cheeks.
“How do you feel?”
“Light. For the first time in 50 years.”
Because of the void left by his deceased brother, James had trouble connecting with Jesus as the friend who is “closer than a brother” (see Prov. 18:24). Because of his brother’s loss, he had a strained concept of a relationship with Christ. He appreciated the idea of Christ being a companion; however, when it came to practical application, Christ remained an abstract idea. To help solve this issue, James needed a personal encounter with Jesus—something that would show that Christ was there with James at the place of his original wounds.
James needed to see Jesus in his painful memory. We use this technique often in Sozo sessions. This tool, called Presenting Jesus, is used to find where lies originated in the person’s life. After discovering a lie’s origin, clients ask Jesus to reveal Himself and impart His truth about the event or memory. Although we believe that not everyone needs to revisit past memories, some of the greatest breakthroughs in Sozo have developed from this tool.
James needed to see Jesus as a friend and savior in the midst of suffering. By allowing Jesus to take responsibility for Drew, James was able to let go and experience freedom.
Notice that in James’s session, Jesus served both as a communicator and companion. By meeting with James in the midst of the painful memory, Jesus was able to communicate truth. As the perfect communicator, Jesus assured James that his brother’s death was not his fault. Although tragedy had taken Drew’s life, Jesus showed James that he was not alone in coping with this hurt. Jesus had been there, too—like a friend closer than a brother (see Prov. 18:24). This released James from the pain of being a failed protector. When Jesus imparted forgiveness, all blame tied to his brother’s suicide was instantly eradicated.
James finally realized that Jesus did not blame him for Drew’s death. Therefore, he did not need to blame himself. This was the beginning step James needed in order to move forward emotionally and spiritually in his life—to leave behind the burden of regret.