God offers us his friendship. How amazing is that?
I remember hearing a sermon once where the preacher reacted uncomfortably to the idea of “God as friend.” To refer to God as “friend” was inappropriate or presumptuous, even derogatory. To him, God is “Almighty,” not “All-matey.” God in all his majesty, glory, power, purity, and awesomeness was not to be spoken of on the same level as just another person.
Just to be clear, there’s nothing low or second-rate about friendship, or even about being human. When we read Psalm 8, we see how high on the scale it is to be a human being. The idea that humans are somehow low and wormlike is a pagan idea, not a biblical one. Anyway, if you have, or ever had, a loyal friend for life, you know how truly rare it is. There’s something very high and lofty (even supernatural) about it, because true friendship is a magnificent gift, a reflection of our Creator.
By being our friend, God doesn’t lose a single ounce of his unapproachable majesty and incomparable glory. That’s the whole point. The great “I Am,” the Almighty of the Old Testament, the holy and powerful Savior/Redeemer of Israel, the Creator of the universe remains just the same as always, but he also offers us a relationship not of slave to master, but as friends. That’s what so astonishing!
So can we be friends with God?
Abraham was referred to as God’s friend, and he certainly wasn’t that great a man by nature. He was full of weaknesses and flaws (just read his story from Genesis 12 onward). But if he was thought God’s friend, so it should follow that God was his.
Also, Jesus called his followers “friends” (Jn. 15:15). As the incarnate Son of God, he could have regarded the disciples merely as his servants, for they did call him “Master” and “Lord.” But Jesus fulfills the role of the proverbial friend that sticks closer than a brother by promising his disciples that he will be with them to the very end of the world (Mt. 28:20).
Our friendship with God stems directly from the connection between the Father and the Son. So because of Jesus, the veil that always existed between God and his creatures was rent in two (Mk. 15:38) and a new access to his sanctuary was available to a sinful, undeserving humanity.
Jesus, with remarkable familiarity, addresses God the Father, “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (Jn. 17:5). And then it gets better. Jesus extends the family circle to include us, by teaching us to pray, “Our Father, hallowed be your name” (Mt. 6:9). So not only are we friends, but close family. The apostle Paul reaffirms the believer’s use of intimate family words for God (Gal. 4:6–7), reminding us that it’s only by the Spirit of God dwelling in us that we can even speak in this way.
Now if we become God’s children by adoption, and friends of Jesus by his choice, then so we are with God. In fact, he is far more a friend to us than we’ll ever be to him, for his faithfulness and reliability far exceed our ability to be loyal to anyone. The deal is really in our favor, not his. But that’s the offer he makes to us.
And what a gracious offer—we are friends with the most holy, almighty God who has only the very best in mind for us. In fact, he is the only person in the world who can make anything happen for us. Faithful, loyal, loving, just, and powerful—if every single friend leaves us, he will never abandon us. In walking through life with him by our side, we can know this truth: “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only” (C.S. Lewis).