Are you God’s friend? Or are you one of the many whom He identifies as His enemies? Do you even realize that we all fall into one of these two categories?
“This is what the Scriptures mean by saying, “Abraham had faith in God, and God accepted him.” That’s how Abraham became God’s friend.” (James 2:23 CEV)
Granted, it almost seems arrogant–far too lofty an aspiration–to assert that I could ever be a “friend” of God. His follower, perhaps; someone who trusts in Him, certainly–but a friend? That, somehow, seems far too ambitious a relationship with the God of the universe for us to aspire to!
Yet if you look at what He tells us in His Word, we find that rather than it being arrogance to desire this level of emotional and relational intimacy with God, being His friend is actually what all of us can be, when we obey Him.
Listen to what Jesus said:
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15:13-15 NLT)
We are His friends if we do what He tells us to do–if we believe Jesus is who He says He is and respond in faith–if we act in obedience because of our belief in Him. Isn’t that absolutely amazing?!
That’s actually why Abraham was God’s friend too. He believed God; He trusted Him enough to understand that regardless of what God asked of him, it was okay–that God would never ask him to do anything that was genuinely bad or wrong or hurtful, because that violates God’s character; who He is. Ultimately, Abraham understood–and trusted in–the goodness of God.
It’s the same for us. We can act in faith and obedience to God when we get it that He will never ask anything of us that is either wrong or ultimately harmful to us or others; when we fully comprehend that God is good–and that He is, in fact, the very essence of love itself. (I John 4:8)
We’ve been, perhaps, confused by the plethora of fictional gods depicted in mythology and the world at large–by stories of heroes and superheroes and gods and goddesses and all kinds of everything that we’re tempted to lump God, whom we read about in the Bible, together with it and assume it’s all nonsense. But the God the Bible talks about is not nonsense and He’s not a concoction of human conjecture, even though we don’t see Him visually.
It is, in fact, because He wasn’t dreamed up by flawed human beings that He is not a “god” created in our image–not basically like us, a flawed being, but with superpowers. That’s actually why we can have trouble understanding Him–because we didn’t make God up, He doesn’t think like us; He sees the whole picture that we frequently do not and has perfect understanding–but it’s also why we can completely rely on Him.
“God is not a human being, and he will not lie. He is not a human, and he does not change his mind. What he says he will do, he does. What he promises, he makes come true.” (Numbers 23:19 NCV)
Yet it isn’t a given that we are God’s friend; God warns us that there are many who are actually His enemies.
When I was a younger woman I really had difficulty understanding this. God is so good, I reasoned–so loving and kind and genuinely good; why on earth would anyone hate Him or oppose Him? Why would any be His enemy?
Yet the sad truth is that for various reasons, some people do set themselves against God–they hate the thought that they are accountable to Him or under His authority; they rebel and seek to be freed of any obligation to obey God in order to do whatever their misguided, and often even genuinely evil, hearts devise.
Yet the reality is that our judgment is flawed; when we pull away from God we not only make ourselves God’s enemies, we also risk making huge mistakes in our own lives.
“For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” (Philippians 3:18-19 NLT)
Setting ourselves against God not only puts us at risk of making huge mistakes in our lives, it also damns us to eventual destruction because those who oppose God and Jesus Christ seem to be deathly allergic to the things of God–they do anything to avoid thinking of Him and the well-being of their souls. It’s really as the verse says, “their god is their appetite (whatever they desire), they brag about shameful things (things they shouldn’t be doing, much less bragging about), and they think only about this life.” And that’s dangerous, because this life is so short and over quickly–sometimes much more suddenly than we anticipated.
Yet God is good to us–so much more so than any of us deserve–when we fear Him; when we recognize it’s important to take what He says seriously and do it; when we are His friend!
“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!” (Psalms 103:13-18 NLT)
Dear Lord God,
Help me be Your friend! Amen.