What we already know is the fact that God created all human beings in His likeness. What many people don’t know is that God created us with a purpose, and that purpose is for us to have an intimate relationship with the Creator. However, we easily relate to being a child of God or a servant of God, but God desires more than that. He wants us to be His friend. Would we like God to be our friend?
If we are friend to someone who is rich, powerful and popular in this world, we can say we are lucky. But we can say that if we are a friend to God, then who can let us down? God desires to establish a special connection, a very special link between Himself as the heavenly Father and us, His created beings.
There are many kinds of relationships and if we are going to study it, we can not give everything because the scope is very big. But we will just focus our attention on particular type of association that is very important to God. And before we do that, let us first examine the different relationships mentioned in the Bible.
Father and Son relationship – This is the most recognized primary spiritual relationship between God and a believer. When Jesus Christ manifested Himself in the flesh, He set an example to all of us. When He was baptized by John, a voice was heard and saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) This was only an example to everyone who will fulfil all righteousness, and Christ left us this example to follow. The meaning of this – that anyone who accept Him and do the will of the Father will be accepted as a child of God – Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Joh 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Those who believe and accepted Him, through baptism and being part of His body, the church of God were given a chance to become the sons of God. (Acts 2: 38, 41, 47) They become sons of God because they have been adopted by God through His grace, love and compassion and by receiving the Holy Spirit. Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Master and Servant relationship – Before, anyone who is called by God is considered chosen by God and that anyone becomes His servant. This includes Abel and Enoch and Noah, before the great Flood; to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to Moses, Joshua and David; to the Prophets and to the Apostles and to all Christians. Jesus said, “You call me MASTER, and Lord: and you say well, for so I am” (John 13:13). God chose these people to serve Him for a specific function, which is to give praise to God who called them. 1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: This is the bottom line of being a follower of Christ – to serve God.
Husband and Wife relationship – We usually think of Jesus Christ and the church of God of the New Testament when we consider the relationship of husband and wife. This was made clear by Apostle Paul when he said, 2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
He again explained this in Ephesians 5:25, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; showing the love and care and responsibilities of the literal husband and wife also have spiritual fulfilment in the relationship between Christ and the church.
Speaking of the church, which is the Body of Christ (Colossians 1: 18, 24), Apostle Paul explains that all who become members of the church, become part of the body of Christ. And again, this relationship of becoming part of the body is evident to all who become part of it. “For as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For the body is not one member, but many … And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you … the members should have the same care one for another … Now you are the BODY OF CHRIST, and members in particular” (1Corinthians 12:12-27).
This affiliation shows the kind of service the different members of the Church are to have toward each other, while at the same time being subject to the Head of the Body, which is Jesus Christ.
As part of the body of Christ, everyone will have a chance to become sons and daughters of God. This relationship is easy to understand. If we are sons and daughters of God, then it naturally follows that the offspring would be brothers and sisters. This is the obvious reason why we usually read in the New Testament how the members addressed each other as “brother” or “sister.” Collectively, the Apostles greet them as “brethren.” There is a special connection for each and everyone.
But the Bible tells that another relationship ties all these relationships we have mentioned. This relationship is the most intimate that God wants between Himself and His people. This is the most unique and probably the most difficult one to achieve for some. This special relationship completes all other foregoing link between us and Him and without this, something is still missing. He wants us to be His friend.
There are characters in the Bible who have succeeded in making friends with God. Let us study how they become intimate with God and let’s learn from them how they have done it. These individuals who throughout history have been the most effective in interceding with God have been His friends. The most prominent example is Abraham. In the Scripture, we read something very special about the relationship between God and Abraham. Isaiah writes: “But you, Israel, are my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham MY FRIEND” (Isaiah 41:8). The apostle James also comments on this unique association by saying: “And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the FRIEND OF GOD” (James 2:23)
Abraham was not just treated as a son to God, or a servant to God but a friend of God. But have we ever wondered how Abraham become so close with God, that God called him His friend? The idea of having men and God being close friends will somehow be difficult to comprehend for each of us, especially the unbelievers. It sounds impossible, because the word friend is usually used and experienced only by us, humans and not to God. We depict our God as a King, who rules us and lives in Heaven.
Most of us enjoy friendship relationships. We like friends because friends are someone we can share our joys and tears and can accept us the way we are. Most of the times, they are our shoulders that we can cry on. This shows that we indeed enjoy the value of friendships in our lives. This very same thing applies in the case of friendship between God and man.
Jesus Christ and His disciples relationship was based on friendship, and not a Master-servant affiliation. “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants (slaves); for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you FRIENDS; for all things that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you. You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.“
This is probably one of the most inspiring, encouraging, uplifting and revealing words in all the Scriptures. Imagine Jesus Christ wanting to be friends not only to His disciples but to everyone who follows His commands. There are many mentioned relationships in the Bible as we have discussed, but this friendship with God is the most amazing of all.
One of the most common characteristics of a true friendship is always staying in touch with each other. Friends manage to keep close contact even they are separated by distance. They do this to keep their friendship close because they like each other. This is the same with God as well. As a friend, just like a son or daughter to their parents, God wants us to constantly talk to Him and communicate as much as possible. This way, the friendship will become much open and intimate. And as a true dear friend, this must be the driving force to each and every one of us to continue communicating with Him through prayers, fasting, meditations, Bible Studies and fellowship with the brethren.
God always fulfil His part in this close relationship. He wants us to be closer to Him than ever before by staying in touch with Him. His Spirit is constantly working, seeking ways of stimulating our minds, triggering right thoughts, moving us and directing us to discern His will for us, motivating and urging us to make the right decisions and take the right turns in this life and calling. If we are really serious with this genuine friendship with God, then we better have this strong urge for this relationship and consistently focus on keeping in touch with God, as our best-friend. There is a saying, “it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality that counts.” This saying applies with our communication with God. Although, He wants constant communication, however He wanted a more quality communication.
Another famous friend of God was Moses – “And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the door of the tabernacle: and all the people rose and worshipped, every man in his tent-door. And the Lord spoke to Moses, FACE TO FACE, AS A MAN SPEAKS TO HIS FRIEND” (Exodus 33:9-11). Notice here how God spoke to Moses, face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
Keeping it Open by Forgiveness
Another characteristic of true friendship is “always forgiving each other.” True friends always find in their hearts to be understanding and forgiving to one another. God constantly proves to us that He is our very best friend in this very area. Don’t the Scriptures plainly show us His mind, when they state: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified (forgiven and cleared of all wrongdoing) by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:6-10).
This is an evidence of how much God wants to have a close friendship with us. The sacrifice He did for us in the past paved the way, broke down the wall of partition, rent the veil, opened the door to allow free access to Him as a friend in heaven. This forgiveness that God has given is beyond words. Even though we often carry on our shoulders a load of guilt and shame, we must come to terms with the pure fact that God already knew all about who we were and what we would do long before He decided to reconcile us to Himself and make it possible for us to become His friends.
And He did it anyway, in spite of the sin and sinful nature of man. When we come under the shed blood of Jesus through His body, the Church, and anything we have done and that which we are is covered and forgiven and washed away. We must accept this marvelous act of love and compassion on God’s part toward us. Apostle Paul says, “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
When a friend forgives, he forgets everything. This is how God forgives. He forgives completely without any strings attached or what so ever. This is His love and mercy to all of us, His friends. They are all freely given to us and don’t need to be perfect, rich or popular to receive it. This sort of freely granted forgiveness is what true friends are able and willing to do for one another. This attitude and approach establishes the basis for real friendship. It opens the door and keeps it open continually.
A Friend is Reliable at all times
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father … better is a friend that is near than a brother that is far away” (Proverbs 27:9-10).
“A man who has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
Can we think of a Biblical case where, as the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed? Paul, upon his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, was confronted with a rather stem group of apostles and disciples. Undoubtedly they recalled his former fanaticism in having Christians arrested, beaten, imprisoned and even killed; and consequently they would not welcome him into their midst.
Paul would surely feel the sting of rejection many times in his life and service to God, but this time must have been a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Here he was being renounced by the chosen apostles, the very eyewitnesses of Christ Himself. It was a difficult time for him.
Paul, however, was not without a friend. In this case, it was perhaps a future friend, but one who showed from the outset what the nature of a true friend really is. Barnabas, the son of encouragement, came running to his rescue. He was intimate with all the Jerusalem crowd and immediately stepped in and paved the way for Paul. He took him, introduced him to the apostles, and then personally vouched for him. And it made all the difference in the world to a man in Paul’s position — especially to Paul, who had very few, if any, friends at this trying time in his life and ministry, and who was unquestionable plagued with many troubling reminders of his past. But Barnabas put everything aside.
Nothing got in the way of his determination to befriend Paul. And even though they later parted company under very adverse circumstances, we know that they remained close friends throughout their lives. Paul speaks affectionately and admirably of Barnabas in some of his later epistles. It is also interesting that Barnabas also befriended John Mark when he too was down. Friends are like that — they are there when you need them.
Another well-known friendship in the Bible was that of David and Jonathan. Their relationship was so beautiful; they are like more than brothers. Their friendship is very strong that it was said, their souls were knit together (1 Samuel 18: 1).Upon learning of Jonathan’s tragic death in the battle of Gilboa, David was inspired to write a eulogy in language that is perhaps unsurpassed in all the Scriptures for its poignancy and emotion:
“David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered the men of Judah be taught this lament … Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mightily have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice. O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul — no longer rubbed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
“Saul and Jonathan — in life they were loved and gracious, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. O daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold. How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, MORE WONDERFUL THAN THAT OF WOMEN. How the mighty have fallen!’ ” (11Samuel 1:17-27).
God’s love for us surpasses not only that of a woman, and even to the love of David for Jonathan. God is always there, not far away. “I am a God that is close at hand … and not a God far off … Do I not fill heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
We are blessed if we have a friend that we can tell anything especially when we are down and need someone to talk to. A friend that we can always open our hearts with anything, is one of the best characteristics of a true friend. Well, all of us need a true confidant, that is, someone we can come with our innermost problems and feelings and freely discuss them.
Some people who just keep these things inside them tend to do something dangerous. Some of them already committed suicide because there is no one who advised them about their problems or they were just afraid to let it out. If they have a friend to lean on, then these things will not happen.
This type of relationship is the one that God wants to see with us. “You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his master does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you.” (John 15:15-16) These verses are telling us that anyone who became friends with God will no longer become servants but friends. A servant doesn’t reveal anything to his master, especially his private matters, but a friend is not like this. God wants us to confide our matters with Him. It’s a special relationship that God, as a Father to all of us desires to have with us.
Best friends seek wise counsel and advice from each other. They keep one another up to date with what is transpiring in their respective lives. Let’s think how we can apply this to our own personal relationship with God. How many times do the Scriptures literally invite us to come close to God? “Enter you into His presence,” David often says; or as in Psalms 73:28: “For lo, they that are far from You shall perish … it is good for me to draw near to God.” (Psalms 73:28) In the New Testament, the apostle James simply puts it this way: “Draw near unto God, and He will draw near unto you” (James. 4:8).
Some people want to have a relationship with God, but they only want the relation to be established in their own terms. Some people feel uncomfortable with being too close because they feel being trapped. This is the reason why some leave the door open so that it will be easy for them to quickly go away.
True Friends Like to be with One Another. This is another quite obvious trait of true friendship with which we are all familiar. Best friends just naturally enjoy, indeed prefer, being with each other. This is no doubt precisely why the apostle Paul described the relationship that we, as Christians, ought to have for one another in the following terms: “Let love be without dissimulation (unfeigned, sincere-the real thing) . . . Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor, PREFERRING ONE ANOTHER” (Romans 12:9-10). When Paul says that we should honor each other, he means “to value or esteem in the highest degree.” And when he states that we should prefer one another, he is saying that we should “highly respect one another.” He is saying essentially that Christians ought to be the best of friends — close, caring, desiring each other’s well being, success and company. Unfortunately, in some instances, we can witness the opposite of this sentiment, such as some church members actually prefer the company of worldly people more than their Christian brothers and sisters. If we hope to be friend with God, we have to take a close look at our friendship right here on this earth.
Apostle Paul put this the same issue with the other members of the church, saying, “If there is therefore any consolation in Christ (and there most assuredly is), if any comfort of love (absolutely), if any fellowship of the Spirit (undeniably), if any bowels and mercies (I should hope so!), fulfill you my joy, that you be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each ESTEEM the other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:1-3).
Christians must be good, close friends, capable of being intimate, confiding, forgiving always when needed, always in close contact, always desiring one another from the heart. We do this because we are brothers and sisters. God also wants this kind of company with us, He wants to be with us always; He wants to enjoy our company.
Be Real with One Another – We don’t need to pretend to be someone that we are not in front of our true friends. True friends can accept who we are. God also wants us to be our real selves with Him. He wants us to be honest all the time. When we talk to Him in prayers, try to be spontaneous and as much as possible do not memorize the words, because He wants to feel what is inside our hearts. This doesn’t mean or imply that we should be disrespectful in how we approach God. Friends should always have respect with each other and are always careful to be thoughtful, considerate and kind in their dealings one with another. This must be shown also in our relationship with God.
A True Friend can Sacrifice Anything for his Friend – Since they are always there for each other, they are willing and able to do whatever is necessary to help, serve, to lighten the burden, to ease the pain and to solve the problems of one another. As always, God is the same with us. He goes all the way with his friends. When we are hurt, He feels the pain intensely. In one place, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to write: “I will recount the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the praiseworthy deed of Yahweh, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His mercies . . . “For He said, Surely they are My people, sons who will not lie — who will not deal falsely with Me, and so He was to them a Savior in an their distresses. In all their affliction, HE TOO WAS AFFLICTED, and the Angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity, He redeemed them; and He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:7-9).
When ancient Israel got themselves in trouble, were in deep despair and distress, were afflicted time and time again, it was God, the Father in heaven, who not only cared and was moved with compassion toward them; but suffered right along with them. In all their afflictions, He too was afflicted!! When they hurt, He hurt too.
In later New Testament times, Paul, in describing Christ, said: “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that has passed into the heavens, Jesus (Yahshua) the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but who was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Indeed, whether we speak of the God of the Old Covenant or the New, in ages past or right now in the present, our Father have always related to and identified with and suffered with and for every single one of us.
Jesus did not just go the mere extra mile that is indicative of a good friend, God ultimately gave up everything, His divinity, His power, His dignity. Yes, He went ALL THE WAY for us.
We read the moving words of the Jesus in John 15 once again, when he said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love — no one has shown stronger affection — than to LAY DOWN HIS OWN LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS” (John 15:12-13).
And going all the way, even to laying down His own life, was precisely what Jesus Christ did for you and me. He was and is the ULTIMATE BEST FRIEND — the very best friend a human being could ever possibly have.
The question is, do these things that we mention here characterize our deep, personal relationship with God? Let us reflect upon our real spiritual lives. Our conclusive victory in this life and calling is gained through knowing God and Christ on intimate, not superficial or abstract, terms. If we truly desire to have impact and influence on our Father; if we wish to pray effectively; if indeed we really want to be all that we can be in spiritual service and growth, then it all must necessarily flow from a genuine, close, personal relationship with God the Father.
Who expresses that kind of special link better than David in the famous 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER.” (Psalm 23)
It truly surpasses all expression and words of description to know that after all is said and done — in spite of who or what we are — with all our problems, shortcomings and failures — our pains, afflictions and sufferings — we can come to the resting place of God’s own home, open the door and enter into the very presence of God Himself — to know that we can finally come home again, into the welcoming smile and warm embrace of our loving Creator, our merciful Father, and OUR BEST FRIEND!