Friendship….with God?!

Think of your best friend.  Picture them in your mind.  Recall all the fun times you’ve had together…making memories, sharing in struggles, talking all hours of the night, laughing over good times, crying through the hard times.  What is it about your friend that attracts you to them?  How is it that your relationship has lasted through the years?

I remember fond times in junior high and high school with Erica.  She lived right around the corner from me, and I’d often spend the night at her house.  Invariably we’d play the game of Life for hours on end.  In fact, I don’t remember doing anything at her house except that!  When the game would drag on into the wee hours of the morning and we’d start getting sleepy, we would make instant iced tea, but double strength, so as to keep us awake.  And I can’t forget the cocoa puffs – that was what we’d eat for breakfast every morning.

Friends.  They make us who we are.  They comfort us, laugh with us, encourage us, and make life worth living.  We may have a lot of friends, or just one or two really close ones.  You might have friends you’ve had since childhood, or maybe some new friends you’ve known just a few months.  Your closest friends might be male or female.  You might communicate with them in person, on the phone, over email or even with lovely, old-fashioned hand-written notes.  They may live in the same house as you, or halfway around the world.  In fact, they might not even be of this world….

I’m not talking about aliens – I’m talking about God.  Would you call God your friend?  Would He call you His friend?

It’s a little strange to think about – being friends with the Creator of the world.  But it isn’t without scriptural basis.  In James 2 we read “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.”  And in Exodus 33 we hear that “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”  Job longs for a time when he remembers that “God’s intimate friendship blessed [his] house”.  Jesus is accused of being friends with tax collectors and sinners, and declares, “you are my friends if you do what I command.”

So if we go back to where we started – imagining the fun, memories, and challenges with our earthly friends – can we think about God in the same way?  Can our friendship with Him be similar to a human friendship?  I was recently reading a book called To Pray & To Love that discussed how the early church envisioned and taught friendship with God.

According to the author, friendship with God has four key components: wanting the same things, freedom of speech without fear, accountability and mutual needs.  As friends, our happiness is (should be) inextricably tied to the actualization of God’s desires. “Break my heart for what breaks Yours” is a line from a popular worship song that reflects this idea. Our priorities and concerns must reflect God’s values of justice, righteousness and mercy.  Communication between friends is key – and must include listening and us speaking freely with Him without fear, hesitation or “editing”.

Accountability in friendship with God was a completely new perspective for me, but I like it!  I’ve often struggled with, on one hand being confident in the Lord and who He made me to be, yet somehow constantly feeling I need to be meek, without opinion, desires or needs.  I’ve wondered whether my challenge was related to a lack of proper humility and deference to the Lord.  But after reading, I am beginning to see it differently – friends hold each other accountable.  God obviously holds me accountable to our friendship, but I am to do the same when it comes to God fulfilling promises He’s made.  Interesting.  And finally, friends need each other. Does this make less of God that he “needs” us? Are we to think less of ourselves or others because we/they need another?  Needing each other is how we were created, and takes nothing away from our “worth”, anymore than God “needing” us takes anything away from His!

What do you think about these ideas?  What constitutes a true human friendship?  Are those the same qualities of our friendship with the Lord?  Can we hold God accountable in our relationship?  Does God need us?