The Bible-study class fell suddenly quiet. A 40-something
woman who had been raised in the church had just confessed that
the God she knew wasn’t a God she could come to for comfort or for
affirmation. After years of dedicated service to the church, this
woman was going through one of the toughest desert experiences of her
Christian life. Illness, job loss, and a teenager in rebellion were
shaking her faith to its very foundation.
Clutching a wad of tissue, this woman said that she had a hard
time coming to God for help, because, in her words, “He’s scary.”
She didn’t feel wanted by this God—a God she had been raised to
fear. The God she had been serving all these years was a God who
demanded absolute perfection and had no tolerance for failure.
The God of this woman’s belief system was angry. Coming to
this God for love and acceptance and understanding was unthinkable. She
could fear God—but be His friend? Never.
So what does it take to be friends with God? How could this
woman be friends with God? More important, how can you and I be
friends with God?
Friendship factor #1: True friendship begins with mutual
The basis of any friendship is that the parties like each
other and want only the best for the other. Yasser Arafat and Ariel
Sharon are not friends. Al Qaeda and America are not friends. They don’t
have mutual respect and admiration for one another, so the basic
element of friendship just doesn’t exist.
In order to be friends with God, we need to know just where we
stand with Him. Is this God someone we want to know? What are His
intentions toward us?
Let’s allow God to speak for Himself. One of God’s closest
friends, Moses, asked to see God’s glory. God placed His friend in a
mountain crevice and covered the opening with His hand to prevent Moses
from seeing His face. As He passed by the opening, God proclaimed who He
was, saying, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow
to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to
thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”1
Let’s hear more from God.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no
compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not
forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.”2
The popular saying is true, “If God had a refrigerator, your
face would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.” But
He’s done better than placing a paper photo in a billfold or on a
refrigerator; He has you “engraved” on the palms of His hands! This God
doesn’t hate you. He isn’t mad at you; He’s mad about
you! He loves you with an everlasting love,3
and His plans for you include prosperity, hope, and a future.4
God wants us. And for many, like the woman at the Bible study,
this comes as a surprising revelation. But God doesn’t express His
friendship just in words.
Friendship factor #2: True friendship involves
Humankind chose to break friendship with God and embrace sin,
which results in death.5 God could have
left us to suffer the consequences of our choice to live without Him.
But a friend doesn’t give up without a fight. So intense was God’s love
for us that “He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is
why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can
have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of
sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world
how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”6
In Jesus, God became man and showed us once and for all how
God feels about humankind. Jesus came to reveal the good news that
God is not angry, but was willing to die so that we may live. Jesus
Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his
life for his friends.”7
You can love a friend like that. You can trust a friend like
Friendship factor #3: True friendship with God requires
believing and receiving
Our first step toward God is a step of faith. “Without faith
it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must
believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”8
Next, we receive the friendship and the gift of eternal life
He offers. His promise is that “all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” 9 When we say Yes to God’s plan and
to God’s Son, we become part of God’s family.
Friendship factor #4: True friendship with God requires
spending time together
We get to know people by talking with them. We get to know God
the same way. Talk to God every day through prayer. Prayer is talking to
God as to a friend. Tell Him your joys, your hopes, your fears,
your successes, and your failures. He made you and wants to share every
part of your life.
Another way to spend time with God is to read His Word. The
Bible is God’s love letter to each of us. Read it and find out all the
marvelous blessings and privileges that are available to God’s friends.
God’s will (or purpose) is contained in His Word. If we want to know God
better—understand where He’s coming from and what He wants for us—His
Word is a bestseller we cannot afford to miss!
Friendship factor #5: True friendship with God involves
regular times of worship
Going to church may seem old-fashioned or even boring, but
hear me out. Friends hang out together, and church is where God and His
friends get together. Today, people associate churchgoing with
formalism, ritual, and rules. But the church is one of the special
places on earth where believers come together to worship, study, pray,
and put their friendship with God to the test by learning how to
care for one another. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are
in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more
as you see the Day approaching.”10
Friendship factor #6: True friendship with God requires
Go ahead. Put God’s friendship to the test. Receive Him, obey
Him, spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word, hang out with
Him in church, and see if God is a friend worth having. It’s hard to
trust someone you don’t know. Your knowledge of who God is and what He
wants will grow as you do these things. To know God is to love Him and
to love Him is to trust Him.
That woman in the Bible study class is still a member of my
church. She’s had to deal with a lot of “baggage” in her relationship
with God, but through it all He’s kept His promise never to leave or
forsake her.11 That’s
something else friends do—keep their promises. She’s learning that she
can count on Him to keep His word. Are you ready to make the same
discovery? C’mon. Let me introduce you to my best Friend.
Randy Maxwell writes from Nampa, Idaho.