Friends of God

     Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). We find at least one time that this occurred in 2 Chronicles. Jehoshaphat was facing battle against overwhelming odds and so he prayed for God’s help. In that prayer he said to the Lord, “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2 Chronicles 20:7). Jehoshaphat was praying and at the same time doing a little pleading with the Lord that He keep their enemies from throwing them out of the land.

     God’s response came in verse 15 through Jahaziel who stood up and said, “Listen all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” We might well remember these words today as we consider the world around us and the perils associated with it (1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:2-4). As the old song says, “The battle belongs to the Lord.”

     The Lord and Abraham had a special relationship. We, like Jehoshaphat and those in Judah, gain great blessings from having God as our friend.

     I fear that our casual culture has mutilated the Biblical idea of friendship with God and diminished it to a purely human level. Friendship with God is essential and important, but it is not the same thing as a human relationship. Human friendships, because they exist between human beings are by necessity and definition, among equals. We are all human and have similar if not always identical frailties. “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). One of the things that makes friendship so valuable is the knowledge that we share a common experience and because of this a good friend will “stick closer” sometimes than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

     Friendship with God is different because it is not a friendship of equals. God is always infinitely superior to man. He is the Creator and we are the creature. This is a truth that we ought to remember. It is out of God’s majestic grace that we are able to have friendship with Him.

     Jesus made this as clear as can be in John 15. In verse 13 of that chapter He said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” We all know this is true. This is the reason that we should and do respect those who serve to protect other people, be it in the military, the police, or those who fight fire and help relieve folks caught in disaster. We appreciate, in the best possible sense of that word, those who put their lives on the line for others. As Paul said, “For a good man, some would even dare to die” (Romans 5:6-8). Those who serve don’t always know if they are protecting good men, but they do it anyway.

     Along this line of thought, we know that Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). Everyone, however, does not want to come to knowledge of God and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), even though that is God’s desire. To be blunt about it, not everyone wants to be friends with God.

     But we do. In that discussion in John 15 Jesus told His people how they could become and remain His friend: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (15:14). In John 14:15 He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” This is not hard to understand. Because of God’s mercy and grace it is not burdensome to do. Thank God for that.

     I mentioned earlier about the idea of friendship with God being diminished. Too many folks do not see Him as the Infinite God who saves us by His sacrifice and His grace. Instead they see Him as a buddy. A buddy He is not. A Friend He is, the only Friend Who can give us the victory in the battle of life.