Following are the words of a song currently popular in worship services:
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend
God Almighty, Lord of Glory
You have called me friend
He calls me friend
He calls me friend…
The song is written by Israel Houghton.
Perhaps you know it well. I see people singing and dancing to this song in church. I ponder. . . how many truly understand what this “Friendship” means.
I think we in the Western Church don’t often know or care about accuracy of Scripture anymore. In our affluence and our busy-ness we have become dull in our thinking. Easy-believism works for us. As long as we emotionally connect with something and it makes us happy, we are along for the ride. A walk with Christ is not costly since most of us have not had to pay a high price for it. We love to believe Jesus is our Friend!! . . . but are we His?!
Friendship with the God of the Bible is a privilege not easily achieved or lightly given. Salvation is free, but friendship is earned. To be a friend, there is a mutuality, a level of agreement, a relationship that has grown in mutual understanding and expectation.
Amos 3: 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?(AKJ)
It may surprise you, but this “Friendship” is not afforded you when you are born again automatically. He is a Friend to you, but it is an unequal Friendship at that point. It is more of a shepherd /sheep relationship. He takes care of you.
Jesus said in:
John 15: 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. 15 From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you. 16 You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: (AKJ)
In verse 13 He notes His own love for them. We know that He laid His life down for His friends. So, if friendship be mutual, how many of you would sing and shout happily about laying your life down for Him? Just asking!!
If you look in context, you will find that Jesus conferring this title of “friend” was a final step in progression. These disciples had walked and talked with Him for three years. They had an ongoing classroom experience learning from Him. They would have said they were utterly dedicated to Him.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. 13 The hireling flees, because he is an hireling, and cares not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.(AKJ)
Becoming Born again makes us God;s children. but we are told we come as newborn babes.
1 Peter 2: 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, . . .(AKJ)
The expectation is that we will grow as we learn more. The writer of Hebrews gives us this exhortation:
Hebrews 5: 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.(AKJ)
So it becomes clear, we come as newborn infants that require the pure milk of the Word, and we graduate as we grow to the solid food or meat of the Word. The purpose of it all is to raise us in Him to maturity, to discern good and evil.
That we are His servants runs as a theme throughout the Bible. The apostles refer to themselves as that even years later, after suffering much for the gospel. They refer to themselves in this way because of humility.
We are called Jesus’ brothers (and sisters) once we enter the family. That is why we can address God Himself as our Father! Think on that a bit . . . let it sink in!
Now in verse 15 of John 15 above, Jesus elevates His disciples to a new level, that of friends, a level above that of a servant and He makes clear the reason. In verse 16 He makes clear that the choice and purpose of the relationship was His to make, while in verse 14 He had already made clear the condition of this friendship: obedience. How do we miss this so often?! How many of us lay happily the claim to the friendship of Jesus yet pay little attention to the condition of obedience?
Furthermore, for friendship to be reciprocal, both friends must offer loyalty to each other. He already gave His all to us and proved Himself loyal, can we say the same, so that He might elevate us to the level of friend? How many of us would be readily willing to lay our all down for him, as Abraham did, and therefore was called a friend.
In my previous post “A God of My Design” I addressed the need we feel to have God conform to our design. yet, Paul exhorts us in:
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.(AKJ)
As I walk in obedience to Him I become conformed to His image. I want to become a friend to Him, not just He to me. I think the writer of the song above has to be awestruck by the magnanimity of God, as I am. But, the lyrics only bring me humbly to my knees, and I find myself yet undeserving of such honor. I will keep working on being more like Him so that while I accept His friendship with total humility, I may be as committed to him as He is to me.
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