Friendship is difficult to quantify. It isn’t about shared interest. There are a lot of people who like the things I like, but would never be my friend. It isn’t about age. I have friends that are much younger and older than me. It’s not about proximity, race, economic status, or even education. I have rich friends and poor friends; black, Asian, Hispanic, European, African, Middle Eastern, and white friends; well educated and less educated friends.
I have thought about friendship lately while reading about God’s friendship with his creation. He has had special relationships with people all throughout the scripture, but only two are referred to as friends. Exodus describes the intimate relationship between God and Moses, “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). The Chronicler described Abraham as God’s friend forever (2 Chr. 20:7). James, in the New Testament said that Abraham was called God’s friend because he believed and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Jesus broadened it out and said all who are obedient are considered his friends (John 15:13).
Friendship is about knowing and trusting. Whether it is with men or with God, friendship intimately understands another person, and is willing to live with the conflict that is inevitable. When it comes to God the conflict is one sided. God endures our sin, redeems us through Christ, and allows us to know Him more fully, as he already knows us. Friendship with humans is two sided, as we expose our frailties, forgive and receive forgiveness. The deeper we know one another the more opportunities there are to be gracious and grant mercy.
Friendship doesn’t come easy. Unlike Facebook where we ‘friend’ everyone under the sun, real life friendships are built over time, based on mutual respect and trust, forged in adversity, solidified in compassion and grace. Like David and Jonathon, this kind of friendship comes once in a lifetime. I have a few friends like this, and I hope to have a few more before I die. But it means being willing to open my heart up to pain and rejection, as well as joy and camaraderie.
I also want to be known as a friend of God. One who is obedient, faithful, and who meets Him face-to-face. Each day is an opportunity to “hang out” with God, get to know Him more, learn from His wisdom, walk in His ways, and find peace in His presence. Like any friendship it takes time. Today is a hanging out day with God. I wonder what He will teach me. I’m just saying…