Wednesday, June 18, 2008
COMPREHENDING OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD
I don't know about you, but I still have a hard time comprehending that I'm a friend of God. Growing up, in my mind, a friend was a friend; sometimes one that stuck closer than a brother, sometimes one that you had today and then they were gone tomorrow, but neither were on a level with "God" to me. God was "big" to me (He still is). But as a kid, He was big and kind of unreachable. I mean, I knew that He could be prayed to and He needed to be believed in or the alternative was bad (plus, I didn't want to disappoint my parents and going to church was just...normal), but God was God, not a friend. To me saying that was blasphemous and bringing the "big, unreachable" God down to my level, and I wasn't about to do that. I reverenced and respected Him. He was on a pedestal. I couldn't imagine that He could be a friend. I needed Him to be God, somebody bigger than my friends. Friends don't come close to a mighty God. I could see, at that age, that nobody I knew as a friend, no matter how good they were, could compete with God and that He was God all by Himself.
Needless to say, I was so wrong, for the most part. Oh yeah, God is God all by Himself, God is on a pedestal in my life, God is "big," and God's thoughts and ways are higher than mine, so He is not on my level. But God humbled Himself and became man, with the same feelings and physical nature as a man, while still maintaining His perfection, so that He could take the sin of the world on His shoulders and set the captives free! He walked among men and became their friends, and they trusted Him and followed Him. Our Lord called us friend. My husband told me this one day while we were having a "spiritual debate" about something. He said, "Honey, I understand your need to make God the biggest thing in your life and not bring Him down to a human's level, but He stooped or humbled Himself; He called us friend. He didn't lower His standards; He came from heaven and stood among men and made them friends, not on a human level, but as the best and most perfect friend man could ever have." I was floored! God calls me friend! I had to pray for the Lord to help me comprehend or understand this and then accept it.
Well, of course I had to look of Scripture pertaining to this "friend" thing. I even looked at Webster's definition to see if it even came close to what God meant when He said friend, because I was just sure that it would only hit the "human surface" of the word, but I must say, after you know that you're a friend of Jesus, you can use Webster's definition and see how it applies. What is a friend?--One whom you can share your deepest darkest secrets, one whom you can share your dreams and excitement, one whom you can trust fully, one whom you're compelled to share any and everything you have with, one whom you know well and are fond of; you're intimate, you're close; one who is not an enemy but an ally, a supporter and sympathizer. What do you know of God's character? He is one that we can talk to any time, He is an ally and definitely not the enemy, He supports us, He is close to us, He sympathizes with us when we hurt and when we're in need, He shares with us in so many ways, we can trust Him fully, He is fond of us (for He created us for His pleasure!), the list goes on and on!! God IS OUR FRIEND AND WE ARE HIS, although we can never bring anything close to what God does in the friendship to the table. He is perfect and sinless after all. He can't betray us, but we've sinned against Him over and over. He still loves us anyway. That's the best kind of friend we could ever have!! And the biggies (John 15:13 and Prov.17:17)--"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (Thank you Jesus, the one who calls ME friend and laid down His life for ME!!) and "A friend loves at all times."
Even Job knew that God was a close friend. Look up Job 29:1-6. Job was recalling the days when He could sense, feel, and knew intimately of God's friendship with him. Verses 4 and 5 say, "As I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me;..." "...when the friendship of God was over my tent..." literally means When God's council was by my tent or When God was an intimate in my tent. My Bible commentary says that this "...evokes a situation similar to that in Genesis 18, where God and two members of His heavenly council eat and drink at Abraham's tent (We're talking God here people!!)--and where God discloses to His friend the imminent birth of the promised son and God's intentions concerning Sodom and Gomorrah." Disclosing this kind of information to a human being, supping with him, etc.--how much friendlier can you get!! I'd faint if God chose, in this day and time, to consider me such a friend that He physically sat down and ate with me!! And while He doesn't make physical appearances, He actually does consider us this close a friend, and He does reveal Himself to us and His plans in so many ways. What a privilege!!
Jesus calls those whom He forgives friends. Consider the paralytic in Luke 5. In verse 20, Jesus calls this man "Friend," and tells him that his sins are forgiven. Again, more proof that we too, are friends of God. You and I (if you've accepted His free gift of salvation) have been forgiven, have been set free, and therefore, are called by God, "friends." What a friend we have in Jesus!! I'm so happy and privileged to be called such!
I pray that you can accept or have accepted that you are indeed, a friend of the risen Savior. I'm sure everyone knew this before I did. I accepted a lot of truthful things about God, but not that He could possibly be my friend. I didn't realize that this was a good thing, and that people who understood these truths weren't lowering God to our standards. He was choosing me as His friend because He loved me. The meaning of friend meant a lot to Him. I now understand and accept that. I challenge you to study further the verses and context around those instances when the word "friend" was used. You'll come away with a greater understanding of what you mean to Him, and in turn, what He means to you.
Have a wiser Wednesday today than you did last Wednesday!!