When I was a child, I loved the song “My Best Friend Is Jesus.” The song taught me that my response to Jesus being my best friend was to love Him, serve Him, and praise Him.
As an adult, I’m mystified that God wants to call us friends. I’m keenly aware of my failures not only in following Him and obeying Him, but in simply truly loving Him.
As I consider God choosing me and calling me His friend, I am humbled, and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t want to be flippant or silly about my relationship with Him. I’ve been disturbed by the attitudes of some Christians who talk about God as almost an equal or have romantic attitudes about their relationship. Some stand on the edge of heresy at best, blasphemy at worst. I don’t want to be guilty of either. So, I have been praying about and reading about what it means to be God’s friend.
I looked up verses to see what it means to be God’s friend. Are there prerequisites or requirements?
Revelation 3:20 simply tells us that if we answer his call to salvation, we are His friends.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (NLT)
James 2:23 tells us that God called Abraham His friend because he had faith and believed in God.
And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. (NLT)
Romans 5:10-11 tells us that our friendship with God was restored through Jesus Christ.
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (NLT)
From these verses it seems clear that our faith in God and accepting His gift of salvation makes us friends of God. Like our salvation, we cannot earn it. We cannot manipulate God into wanting to be our friend. He came to us, and He chose us to be His friends. As with our salvation, we show that we love Him and know Him by our obedience and our love for others. In the same way, we are His friends when we do what He commands (John 15:14).
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (John 15:14-15, NLT)
It seems that being God’s friend is not something to be attained but something to be cherished. It is a gift and part of being His child. He does not call us slaves, but friends. Just reading those words brings a since of belonging, hope, joy, and humility.
I do not want to have an attitude of careless familiarity with God. He is still God, after all. However, in being called His friend, there is familiarity there. There is a closeness, a kindred-ness of knowing Him and enjoying being in His presence. There is reverence and awe but no fear or dread.
When I think of my friends, I think of talking about everything together, spending time together for no real reason other than it’s fun to be together. I think of fun, laughter, and joy. And I think of transparency and vulnerability because with our true friends, we don’t pretend we are something we aren’t. With my friends, there is acceptance, even when I mess up. There is always forgiveness and reconciliation. And when we’ve been apart, it’s like I never left when we get back together again.
These are the characteristics I also have with God’s friendship. The scripture says He tells us His plans. He’s given us His word that reveals His heart, His plan, and His character. Through it, we know Him.
And as His friends, we enjoy and want to spend time with Him. We experience joy in His presence. We are real—we cannot hide anything from God anyway. He is not fooled by any of our games or attempts to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. He knows our hearts better than we know ourselves. And He accepts us anyway with His amazing unconditional, life-changing love. And when we walk away and return, we always find forgiveness and reconciliation. We find that it seems we’ve never been apart after that. His grace and mercy are so complete.
My childhood song of “My Best Friend Is Jesus” has changed to the old hymn “Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners” and the worship song “Friend of God,” but I am so thankful that God calls us His friends—that He wants a relationship with us that is genuine and real, one of acceptance and complete spiritual healing where we are not His enemies or His slaves but truly His friends.