Monday, November 28, 2005

God Is The Christian's Friend

A young man stands watching a beautiful sunrise three thousand years ago; he has previously saved his nation and its leader from total destruction. He had not ever been formally trained in the art of warfare as it was known at that time, but with only a sling and a stone visible to those watching he conquered Israel’s greatest enemy. Unseen by both armies, but seen with the eye of faith which he had, is his friend. The young man is the son of Jesse. We know him as David: he will later be a king over Israel, his friend is the King of all creation and He has arisen from His throne to protect and give victory to David.

We who have the eyes of faith know this one who stood by David’s side. We know Him as Jesus of Nazareth. He is our Lord and Savior, and He wants to be our friend also, and to have us know Him with all that the scriptures reveal that relationship of friendship to hold. When we receive the Spirit of God by the hearing with faith and are thereby born from above, we receive many spiritual gifts from God: eternal life, forgiveness of sins, aid to fight the power of sin in our lives, and even God’s Spirit Himself to indwell us.

We can be thankful that the list is very long; but I would like to draw attention to one oft-overlooked gift, a gift that actually demands a relationship. I am talking about the privilege and honor of knowing God, not only as Lord and Savior, but also as my friend. This relationship does not lend itself too readily to mere intellectual assent, nor can it be just one on a list of religious statements you check off and use to proclaim yourself a Christian. Neither can it be but one of a group of religious shibboleths you profess to hold so as to remain faithful to whichever Christian subgroup in which you presently claim membership. Jesus says to his disciples that they are His friends, and He wants you and me to have this relationship with Him as well.

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever: the one who stood with David wants you to be his friend. What an honor and privilege! You can see: this is not going to be something you may possess by intellectual assent, nor certainly by proxy. This must actually be yours, and you must live in, with and by this relationship as you do with other relationships in life and with all the other relationships God has with you.

If this seems difficult to grasp -- in many respects it surely is -- look closely at the relationship of David with Jonathan, or of Paul with Timothy. God does not choose His words lightly, and these are among the clearest examples of friendship He ever gives.

Is there a danger of being too familiar with Christ, which is to say, in a bad way? Sure, and an immature Christian might well use this fact to hand check or dismiss the concept of Christ as friend. But I believe better things concerning you. All due respect is required at all times and is never to be compromised; yet God Himself defines His boundaries, and friendship is among them. God -- your friend -- must help you through.

The Bible says there is a friend closer than a brother. David knew this truth and walked with his friend all his days. If you do not have this closeness with the Lord, then like Jacob wrestle with God, and do not let Him go until you receive a blessing: the blessing of knowing Him as a friend.

In Christ, Shawn