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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to Become God's Friend

I love the contemporary praise song "I'm a Friend of God." It's peppy, positive and praiseworthy. But I wonder if we sometimes sing that song with full gusto and conviction only to take that relationship a little for granted.

You see, while God loves us each and every one, He sent His Son to save us from our sins, and He gladly welcomes us into His family once we've committed ourselves to Him, He doesn't call just everyone a friend.

Remember our definition of friendship we established in the last post?

A friend is one who speaks into your life and you speak into their's. 

Turns out, that's the same criteria by which God defines His friendships; only He has some very specific contingencies on that which is spoken, especially on our part.

Each time friendship with God or Jesus Christ is mentioned in the Word of God, He is the one who determines that a person is His friend. We don't just get to determine that we are in a friendship with God; that's always His call.

He said Abraham was His friend. He chose to talk to Moses like a friend. And Jesus decided when, why, and how to call His followers friends. So if the terms of friendship belong to God, exactly what are they? What is the "conversation" that takes place in this friendship relationship? What does He say to us and what do we say to Him?

Well, obviously He speaks to us on His terms. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through nature, through His Spirit, through the life and words of Jesus Christ, and through His Word. He speaks truth. Always. He also speaks love, grace, mercy, kindness, and goodness. And then again, He sets the standard for righteousness and holiness. He speaks conviction, judgment, and eternity. He offers wisdom, when we ask for it and seek it. He speaks plenty and yet we never get enough. His words are life and breath, hope and joy. They fill our souls and heal our hearts.

So of course, we long for His friendship. Who wouldn't want a friend who spoke all of those things into her life?

But how do we become a friend to God? How and why would He call us a friend? What would we "speak" to Him in order to be considered His friend?

Here's what I found in the Holy Word of God. To be God's friend, we must speak:

  • Faith. We must profess our faith in who He says He is, what He says He can and will do, and what He says He can and will do through us. We must believe Him...consistently, with each and every promise, to the point that we're willing to stake our lives on it. James 2:23 tells us that Abraham believed God, and it {his faith} was accounted to him as righteousness {right standing with God}, and he was called the friend of God. When we say we believe God and then act like it, we prove ourselves to be God's friends. And, make not mistake about it, the converse is true as well. When we don't take God at His word, we prove to not be His friends at all. Only complete belief puts us in right standing with Him so we can be His friends.
  • Obedience. When we consistently do what God has commanded us to do, we earn the privilege of being His friend. Jesus told His disciples in John 15:14 that He now {then} chose to call them friends if they did what He commanded them to do. The same applies to us. He speaks into our lives righteous commands and we are to speak back with our words and our actions, "Yes, sir! I will do what You have asked because I love You."
  • Listening. Remember, not everything we "speak into" a friend's life is spoken with words. We also speak into each other's lives by listening, by our presence, by our commitment, by our high evaluation of them. When we take the time to listen to God, really listen...the way a friend listens to valued friend...we are proving ourselves to be His friend. In Exodus 33:11 we learn that God spoke to Moses up close and personal, just as a friend speaks to a friend. That kind of intimate speaking is only accompanied and spurred on by careful and loving listening.
  • Prayer. God invites us to speak to Him of our concerns, our burdens, our cares. He even invites us to cast those troubles upon Him. He tells us to seek, knock, and ask. He tells us to ask for anything. He wants to hear our hearts and He wants us to voice our needs to Him. He has invited us to spill all and trust Him with every gritty detail. The more we pour out our hearts to Him, the more we prove to trust Him as a friend.
When we "speak" these things to God -- faith and obedience, accompanied by listening and prayer -- He speaks back on an even more intimate basis. John 15:15, which follows Jesus' invitation of friendship to His disciples, promises that when we behave like friends of God He discloses even more to us than He has disclosed at large. There in that mutual friendship He shares the secrets of His kingdom with His most trusted confidants, His friends (Matthew 13:11).

Friendship is not just a warm fuzzy feeling. It comes with responsibilities and mutual give and take. We may crave the friendship of God, in fact we were made to be completed by it. But we will never know the full benefits of that sweet, sweet friendship until we learn to speak the "right" words...the words of a true friend.

Are you a friend of God? What do you enjoy most about that sweet relationship? How is He like a friend to you?

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