bits from bob....
Our Friendship With God
by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]
Is it significant that only one man in all of Scripture is called the friend of God? That designation is reserved for Abraham. In Isaiah 41:8, God refers to Israel as his servant, Jacob whom he has chosen, as descendants of Abraham my friend. James 2:23 says, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God." Abraham, the father of the faithful, is the friend of God.
Against this later designation, the words of Genesis 18:17-19 become more poignant: Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
This text encourages us to pursue more diligently a relationship with God as friend. Several facets of friendship with God are in view.
- 1. Friendship with God is delightful. How different is a constant relationship that flows from heart to heart from an occasional presence! While God's presence in our lives through periodic prayer is wonderful, genuine friendship is perpetual. As husband to wife, as God to Israel, as Christ to his church, this friendship provides companionship, understanding, discipline, freedom, and direction. One does not have to ask the other about wants and desires--continuing contact makes the desires of the other clear. Life is disciplined by a close relationship with another. In right relationship with God, yielding is easy, freedom is exhilarating, and we become the very will of God, deciding according to the dynamics of the relationship. Think of your life with God. Are you focused on finding God or finding the things God can provide? Do you pray to get or to get God? Are you seeking the gifts of worldly gain or the gift of God and his Spirit?
- 2. Friendship with God must be developed. This friendship develops and deepens. How often have you longed for spiritual depth? How often have you desired a deeper relationship with another? Friendship with God grows deeper through communication. Friends talk. Exodus 33:11 says that "the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." God is not a mystery. He does not hide his will or actions from his friends. He speaks, He reveals himself. He desires for us blessing, and we respond in kind.
- 3. Friendship with God is dynamic. This statement means two things: in our friendship with God we find power, and our friendship with God is developing as we change and grow. What is God wanting to do in your life? What power is he providing, what strength sustains, what plan is he proposing? Abraham is able ultimately to grow and develop because of his faithful relationship with God.
- 4. Friendship with God directs us. Friends sharpen one another. Proverbs 27:6: Wounds from a friend can be trusted. God will direct Abraham, and Abraham will in turn direct his children and house in the way of the Lord. From our friends, we receive guidance. Proverbs 27:9: The pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.
- 5. Friendship with God is demanding. A friend never lets go. Proverbs 17:17: A friend loves at all times. Friendship with God disciplines us and corrects us. This friendship with God is no easy thing. It is not lightly sought. One should expect that Christianity will be challenging.
- 6. Friendship with God is difficult. It is not easy to develop intimate friendships. It is not easy to maintain friendships. In this biblical context, Abraham stopped praying. Why? He could not keep asking boldly until his friend answered. The relationship was not yet deep enough. When you pray, do you ever give up? Do you ever quit, thinking perhaps you should not pray longer over that request, or that you may be outside God's will? Do you quit before God answers? We must seek the same kind of intimate relationship with God that Jesus reflects in his prayer life.
God has chosen us; God guides us. He can bring about in our lives his promises. He knows our needs. Let us pray to know God better. Perhaps we can be friends of God too.
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Last updated October 20, 2003.