There are many religious traditions, even Christian church denominations, where God is not represented as a friendly person. He’s stern, angry, or just plain mean. I have to admit that I thought about God in exactly those kinds of terms. Then when I was presented the gospel, it came as a shock to be told that God actually wanted to be my friend. On the last night of His life, Jesus tells the disciples that they are His friends.
“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
What’s even more startling is that Jesus says that His friendship is not just for the elite. In Matthew 11:19 He calls Himself “a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” So the Lord extends His hand of friendship to anyone willing to accept His offer of salvation and lordship. He quite literally wants to be my friend.
But, I’ve been thinking… Do I treat Him like a friend? To begin to answer that question I have to think through what’s involved in being a friend in the first place. How does someone become a friend? What’s the formula?
Think about the friends in your life. Not just acquaintances but people you consider good, close friends. How did they get to that status? And how does that relate to treating God like a friend?
There is one factor that makes all the difference. A factor that turns someone I like into someone I think of as a true friend, the same factor that turns God from a distant acquaintance to a close friend…Time!
You cannot establish a friendship with someone if you don’t invest the time to get to know them. In the same way, thinking about God once a week during a church service isn’t going to bring you to that close fellowship of friendship with the Lord. Remember how it was with your long-time childhood friends? You saw each other every day. You spent hours and hours in each others company. You talked. You listened. You spent TIME together. Sounds like what Jesus told his disciples… “Follow me.” He didn’t say, “Look me up every-so-often when it’s convenient.”
This is one of the reasons why so few of us have close friends in our lives. We just don’t want to give anyone that kind of time… including God. Why don’t I study my Bible and pray every day? I just don’t have time (or more realistically, I don’t want to give God that kind of time). I’m just not interested in working on that friendship.
If Christ is going to be a real friend in my life He doesn’t follow me around begging for me to glance His way for a second or two. That’s not a friendship. He wants me to spend time with Him… every day. Do I do that?
Do I have lengthy conversations with Him? Do I tell Him my dreams, my fears, and my struggles? That’s what we do with real friends, isn’t it? And while we’re talking about conversations… no friendships have ever come out of a constant one-way conversation.
In his book, “My Utmost for His Highest,” Oswald Chambers asks a great question.
“What is the sign of a friend? That he tells you secret sorrows? No, that he tells you secret joys. Many will confide to you their secret sorrows, but the last mark of intimacy is to confide secret joys. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys, or are we telling God our secrets so continually that we leave no room for Him to talk to us?”
That brings me to my last point. If we are establishing our friendship with Christ by spending time with Him and having a two-way conversation, how does He speak back to us?
God’s chosen method of telling us about Himself and His desires is the Bible. Therefore, in spending time establishing a close-friend relationship with God, am I allowing Him to speak to me through His word? Am I spending any time reading it and asking Him to tell me through its pages what He has in mind for our relationship?
GREAT QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Do I treat God like a friend? Do I spend significant amounts of time with Him? Do I talk to Him about my life AND do I allow Him to talk to me about my life?
Think about it…
By Len Allen