“A friend is someone who is kind, loyal, honest, interested in the same things I am, willing to share my problems and able to be with me as much as possible.”
Pretty good definition from a group of preteens, isn’t it? Friendship is valuable. Most of us work making and maintaining good relationships with at least one other person. However, we cannot control them. Someone we know can have all these characteristics but not automatically become our friend, no matter how much we might desire it.
My young friends also know how painful it feels when someone decides, for whatever reasons, to no longer be their friend. They discovered before they even go to school that relationships can be tricky at times.
That same group of children discussed the friendship of God. They decided that He has all the qualities that make a good friend. In fact, they decided that He makes a far better candidate than any of us.
My question is, “is He willing to be our friend?” Maybe He doesn’t want to have anything to do with us. Maybe we think He is aloof, set apart from this world and only wound it up to watch it tick. Maybe we think we have sinned too much, that we are too awful for Him to want as a friend.
The Bible reassures those who doubt by stating, “Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners . . . ” No matter what we have done, He will befriend us. But some people do not consider themselves sinners. Logic tells them they’re good people with the characteristics of a friend, would have far better grounds for a good relationship with God than sinners. But that is not how God looks at it. In fact, Jesus said he did not come for the sake of the good people but for sinners . . . and the Bible says “all have sinned . . . ” (Matthew 9 and Romans 3)
The problem with being friends with God is not that he does not have all the characteristics of a friend, but that we don’t. God “desires truth in the inward parts.” In other words, He wants His friends to be honest. However, it is not easy to admit, even to ourselves, that we sin and are sinners. But if we think carefully, we realize that we violate our own standards, never mind His. Yet it is so easy to defend ourselves, shift the blame, or deny that we ever did anything wrong.
Such lack of honesty before God builds a wall that separates us from the most loyal, loving and accepting Friend we could ever have. But should we dare, the wall can be removed. We could even be called a friend of God and that would put us in the same category as Abraham, Moses and the Apostles.
James 2:23 says, “Abraham believed God, and his face made him righteous, and he was called the friend of God.”
Exodus 33:11 says God spoke to Moses “as a man to his friend.”
Jesus told the Apostles, “from now on I will not call you servants because a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I call you friends because all that my Father has told me, I pass on to you.”
To become members of such an illustrious group requires much of the same things that it does to become the friend of anyone else. It begins with an actual introduction, where each receives the other. Jesus has made the first move with this invitation, “Anyone who comes to me, I will in no way cast him out.”
He is willing to receive us. Our part is to be willing to receive Him. “As many as received Him He gives the right to become the sons of God, and even those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
From that point on, we can spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer, learning His interests, growing in loyalty through obedience. He in turn will not only include us in His family but in His plans for this world and all of eternity. He will be kind, loyal, share our problems, heal our hurts, and stay with us forever. We will find Him to be as the writer of Proverbs 18 says, the “friend that sticks closer than a brother.”