A Friend of God


I recently brought a message from John 15 where Jesus referred to his disciples as friends. Afterwards someone mentioned to me that they had always had a difficult time thinking of God in terms of friendship. To them it seemed too casual. Indeed, perceiving God in superficial ways is definitely something to be avoided. Don Carson’s comment on the passage is helpful: “Mutual, reciprocal friendship of the modern variety is not in view and cannot be without demeaning God.”

So, what is friendship with God like? How do I develop this kind of relationship with the Lord? Clearly, it isn’t the same as the relationship we enjoy with others whom we call friends. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are truly a friend of God.

1. Am I obedient?

While there may be similarities, friendship with God is not one of equals. Jesus, our Lord and Master, said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14) We would never make that requirement of our friends. Three times in Scripture Abraham is referred to as God’s friend. In James 2:23 we’re given the reason. He trusted and obeyed the Lord’s commands. His “faith was active along with his works.” (James 2:23) In Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith, it states that “by faith Abraham obeyed.” No one can consider himself the “friend of God” while living in disobedience.

2. Am I separated?

We don’t hear much about living separated lives today. Yet the Bible is clear that believers are not to be “conformed to this world.” (Romans 12:2) This non-conformity means that we don’t share the world’s values, lifestyles, or worldview. In fact, James says plainly that “friendship with the world is enmity with God. Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) John tells us that if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us.” (I John 2:15) No one can consider themselves the “friend of God” whose life resembles the world more than it resembles Jesus.

3. Am I compassionate?

This intimate relationship with Jesus, our friendship with him, was initiated by him. There was nothing in us to commend ourselves to him, nothing deserving of his love, and nothing that we could offer him in return. He came to us when we could never and would never have come to him. He saw our need and in compassion and mercy gave his life to save us. Such kindness requires that we treat others with the grace that we ourselves have received. Jesus was called a “friend of sinners.” How can we consider ourselves friends of God if we do not respond in compassion when confronted with human need?

4. Am I faithful?

Friendship is not fickle. The Bible says, “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) You may have heard that “a friend is one who walks in when everyone else has walked out.” Jesus our friend said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Are you consistent in your devotional life? C.S. Lewis wrote: “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it's there for emergencies but he hopes he'll never have to use it.” No one can consider themselves a “friend of God” who treats Jesus that way.

There are other aspects of friendship I could mention but these questions should suffice to determine whether your relationship with the Lord is one of friendship or more like the airman and his parachute.

A few questions to ask yourself to determine whether you are truly a friend of God.