Is God Our “Friend?” – Today’s Thoughts…
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 6, 2009
Is God the Father our “friend?” I hear this so often that I began to think it was true, but interestingly I discovered this is simply not true in the way we have often been taught to understand. Certainly God spoke to Moses as a “friend,” (Exodus 33:11) but we are not Moses and we do not have the same relationship to God as Moses did. In fact, ours I believe is much better! (More about that in a moment.) Job relates that we have an intercessor that is his “friend” in heaven pleading before the throne of God, so we understand that this intercessor is not God the Father. It is more likely an indication of Jesus before God’s throne (Job 16:19-20). God calls Israel His “friend” but in reality the word here is “beloved” like that of a lover and it refers to the entire nation and not individuals (Isaiah 41:8). We find the nation Judah desperately trying to use the term “friend” with God but He refused to hear them (Jeremiah 3:4), and we find Jesus calling Judas “friend” when he betrays Him to those sent to arrest Him (Matthew 26:50). Is this a good thing for us to use the term “friend” with Jesus? In fact, Jesus accused Judas of greeting Him as a “friend” with a kiss and then betraying Him (Luke 22:48)!
Now, I know that Jesus used the term “friend” in the New Testament when He healed folks, but when you look for that actual word He used it was not “friend” as we think of a buddy but rather He usually meant “neighbor, man, fellow, follower, or comrade.” And “comrade” for Jesus just meant a fellow person or follower, as in a disciple, not necessarily a personal buddy.
James says that Abraham was called God’s “friend” (James 2:23) but in reality this is not quite true because the passage he is quoting actually says that “Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness,” which Paul quotes correctly (Romans4:3). So is God our friend or is He to be seen as God?
Now I know that many of you will immediately yell, “Pastor Lee you are forgetting that Jesus and God the Father are one and the same!” Yes, that is true, and herein is what I am trying to help many of you see. Somewhere we have swallowed a whole bunch of bilge concerning how we are to relate to God, forgetting who He is and who His Son is and why He had to come to earth. When we do we forget exactly why Jesus was sent. Jesus was sent because we as sinful creatures needed an advocate that understood us as only a fellow human being could. He had to suffer at the hands of those who He came to redeem, die on a cross for our sins, rise from the grave, and ascend into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to make intercession on our behalf. Jesus willingly laid His deity aside (Philippians 2:6-8).
Now, if you want to say that Jesus my Savior is my “friend,” I understand what you mean and believe that as well, but God as God in His fullness is God and we are to praise, worship, and adore Him as God. Never forget that Jesus told His disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) Again, Jesus used a term meaning “associates” or we might say, “followers.” You may be confused by this, but do not be. In God’s grace He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to show us His love. While Jesus is fully God in all authority, power, and personality – it is He who is our friend because he willingly humbled Himself and became obedient. But it is a friendship that is one based on grace and as Jesus as our Savior, breaking down the barrier between God and man. This is why “God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) Now, certainly we can get to know Jesus better as a “friend” as we walk with or rather abide in Him in obedience and faith. In fact, we see this with Peter, James, and John “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:20).
However, when we reduce God to being our best “friend,” what we are trying to do is place God on the same level as we are. Just a little nicer and holier than us. This is perverse. It is true to a certain extent when we do it with Jesus as well when we forget who Jesus truly is – our Savior! When we make God into our image instead of placing Him where He is intended to be, we begin to make a work of fiction of the Bible and it is easy to mold God into what we want Him to be.
When God tells Abram or Moses, “I am the Lord!” He means it in full authority, power, and majesty – not as some feelie comradeship or as a personal buddy. Why do you think He gave the Israelites His commands? He tells them, “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44a) He told Moses that he stood on holy ground in front of God, and even Moses could not look on His fullness without dying instantly! In fact, the term “I am the Lord” is used over 150 times in Scripture, so do you think it was important to God for us as sinful human beings to see Him as He truly is? I should say so!
We as sinful human beings could never be holy as God is holy, so He in His mercy and grace sent Jesus so we could be holy through His obedient loving sacrifice!
God is not your “buddy” nor your best friend forever, He is the God who sent you a Savior so that you also could relate to Him. And folks, that is grace.
This article is copyrighted © 2008 by Lee Hemen and if you reprint it, reproduce it, or want to use it in any way, you must do so in its entirety or get the written permission of its author.