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It is interesting to note what James said about Abraham, the father of the faithful:
James 2:23: And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God.1
Notice how James draws attention to the fact that Abraham was called the friend of God. The term “friend” is somewhat intimate and conveys a sense of closeness, trust, and sharing.
What is remarkable is that Abraham was termed the friend of God. The great, almighty, ever-present and all-powerful, all-knowing God was the one who made this statement. This was not Abraham’s assessment of his relationship with God, nor how he thought about God. It was a statement that God made about Abraham.
James was quoting from Isaiah 41:8: “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend.”2
The children of Israel were God’s servants and were the offspring of Abraham, who was God’s friend. Just consider for a moment how remarkable these words are and what a remarkable relationship they describe! Consider that a limited, physical, mortal being would be thought of by the all-powerful, immortal, all-knowing, supreme God as His dearly beloved friend. Also consider that an imperfect man, made from the dust of the ground, would be viewed by the perfect Creator God composed of eternal spirit as one with whom He could have a warm, lasting, and special friendship.
Yet the words my friend are exactly how God did consider Abraham, and his relationship with God was a true and deep friendship… We too can experience that same kind of friendship with God which Abraham enjoyed. But to do this we need to first examine what it is that makes friendships what they are in order to understand how we can, like Abraham, be called the friends of God.—From Christian Churches of God3
Conversations with God
Friends play a major role in most people’s lives. It’s natural to want to have friends, and it’s also natural to feel sad if you don’t have friends. Many people in today’s world find a certain thrill to having a high number of people “friend” them on Facebook.
Having friends is something that’s been important since the beginning of time, and friends and friendship are talked about in the Bible starting with the book of Genesis. In Exodus 33:11 it says that God talked to Moses as someone talks to a friend. I have often wondered what kind of conversations those were. And then there was Abraham, who was called the friend of God in Isaiah 41:8 because he had such a close relationship with God.
Jesus called His disciples His friends because of the things He told them. He said, “I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”4—Dan Ross
Friendship with Jesus
What does it mean to call Jesus your friend? Or more importantly, what does it mean when He calls us His friends? …
Being friends with Jesus means allowing yourself to be defined by Him.5 Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” It is Peter who responds, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” In a few moments Jesus answers back, “You are Peter, the Rock.” Real friends help to define each other. In the give and take of genuine relationship, as “iron sharpens iron,” the imprint of the true friend becomes indelible on the soul of the other.
Being Jesus’ friend means hearing Him say, “Don’t be afraid.”6 The Synoptics tell us that the three [Peter, James, and John] were terrified as they witnessed the Transfiguration. It was the only time any of His disciples would see His unveiled glory. Mark tells us Peter did not know what to say, he was so afraid. Matthew says that after it was all over, Jesus told the three, “Don’t be afraid.” Most often when He was revealed in a new dimension Jesus had to comfort them with those words. When their nets were miraculously filled for the first time in Luke 5, Jesus responds, “Don’t be afraid, from now on you’ll catch men.” When He approached the boat, walking on the water, He called out, “It is I, don’t be afraid.”7 It is what He tells the woman at the tomb as well.8
In time, if we walk long enough with Jesus as our friend, He will reveal Himself in newer, deeper and sometimes even fearful ways. “Don’t be afraid,” He whispers. “I am.” If we don’t have to be afraid of God, we don’t have to be afraid of anything.
When Jesus is your friend, you are certain there is someone in your life who understands your fragileness, struggles and hurts.9 Jesus never called Peter or any of the others to do anything or to go anywhere He had not already been. Before He calls them to become “fishers of men,” Jesus demonstrates how it is done by first catching them. Before He sends them out to speak His word and do His work, Jesus spends a period of concentrated time preparing them. He would not call upon them to take up the cross until He had first demonstrated that He was determined to go on before them to Golgotha…
We cannot earn more of His love with good behavior. Even as we do not forfeit His love when we fail. He loves us as we are and not as we should be. We don’t change so that He will love us. He loves us so we can change. “It is His kindness that leads us to repentance.”10—Michael Card11
Knowing, sharing, and listening
Someone has defined friendship as “knowing the heart of another and sharing one’s heart with another.” We share our hearts with those we trust, and trust those who care about us. We confide in our friends because we have confidence that they will use the information to help us, not harm us. They in turn confide in us for the same reason.
We often refer to Jesus as our friend because we know that He wants what is best for us. We confide in Him because we trust Him. But have you ever considered that Jesus confides in His people?
Jesus began calling His disciples friends rather than servants because He had entrusted them with everything He had heard from His Father.12 Jesus trusted the disciples to use the information for the good of His Father’s kingdom.
Although we know that Jesus is our friend, can we say that we are His friends? Do we listen to Him? Or do we only want Him to listen to us? Do we want to know what’s on His heart? Or do we only want to tell Him what’s on ours? To be a friend of Jesus, we need to listen to what He wants us to know and then use the information to bring others into friendship with Him.—Julie Ackerman Link13
Published on Anchor April 2020. Read by Jerry Paladino. Music by John Listen.
4 John 15:15.
5 Matthew 16:13–23.
6 Matthew 17:7.
7 Mark 6:50.
8 Matthew 28:10.
9 Hebrews 2:18.
10 Romans 2:4.
12 John 15:15.