Recently I have been pondering what it means to be a friend to Jesus. Many of us might remember the song we sang in church “What a friend we have in Jesus”. Jesus tells us in the book of John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. Well, He did exactly that when He died on the cross for your sins and mine. So if I accept that He is my friend, then that makes me question whether or not He considers me to be His friend. Having a friend is not the same as being a friend! Facebook has unfortunately taken the word friend and dumbed it down to mean anyone I happen to be acquainted with or play games with, regardless of whether or not I’ve even met the person.
So in my quest to understand what it means to be His friend, I believe He has shown me that there are two parts to this mystery. And I really do believe it is a mystery. The first part involves our relationship with Him and the second involves our relationship with others. He kinda summed it up for us when He said in Luke 10:27 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself”.
Scripture tells us that both Abraham and Moses were considered friends of God. My question then becomes “Why?” I believe that the Lord showed me several reasons why He considered them to be His friends.
Our Relationship with Him
First, they believed God. They had faith in what He told them. Genesis 15:6 says “Abraham believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness”. In Numbers 12:4:8 the Lord tells Aaron and Miriam the following about Moses: “He is faithful in all My house.” That word faithful means to believe. It is actually the same word that is used in Genesis 15:6 where it says that Abraham believed God. The meaning behind this word is so powerful that God rebukes Aaron and Miriam in verse 8 when He tells them the following: “I speak with him (Moses) face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” The Lord makes it very clear here that He takes His relationship with Moses very seriously and the reason is because Moses believed Him. Moses is faithful in all His house! Oh that I would be faithful in all His house and would believe Him!
Second, they obeyed God’s commands. In Genesis 22:1-19 we are told the story of Abraham being tested by God and obeying God’s voice in offering his son Isaac up as a sacrifice. It’s a brutal story, if you think about it. I cannot imagine being told such a thing by God and having the courage to obey. Yet we are told that Abraham did as God asked. He got up early in the morning, took his son and went to the land of Moriah to sacrifice his son. I discovered an interesting little tidbit while researching this story. Moriah is the exact location on the eastern edge of Jerusalem, where many centuries later, Solomon built the first temple. Coincidence? I think not. Something took place that day that laid the spiritual foundation for that temple to be built. We may not always understand what God is doing, or what He is requiring, but we must learn to trust that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
In Exodus, we are told the story of how God delivered the Israelites out of the land of Egypt through great signs and wonders. He did those miracles through Moses and Aaron. Again, it is so easy to just read the story of the Exodus and think, wow, that’s cool. But put yourself into Moses’ shoes, just for a minute. God speaks to you from a burning bush. He tells you to go to the land of North Korea and confront Kim Jong-un, Supreme leader of the country. He tells you to tell the man “Let my Christian people go!” This dictator is known world wide for his labor camps. He is a cruel, uncaring leader, much like Pharaoh was during his time. The Israelites were also in bitter bondage, doing hard, cruel labor for Pharaoh. Would you do it? Moses did. Yes, he argued about it, and we talk about his so called speech issues, but in the end he did it, didn’t he? Would you? Would I? Yet Jesus tells us quite plainly in John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command”.
Third, they spent time alone with God. Exodus 33:11 says “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” If we make time to be alone with Him, He will speak to us. He desires to share the secrets of His heart with us. He told the disciples in John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you”. He is willing to share his secrets with us but it requires our time. We must spend time alone in His presence, to get those secrets. Are you willing? Are you curious to hear some of those secrets?
Finally, they interceded and prayed on behalf of others. When Abraham prayed for deliverance and God’s mercy on Sodom and Gomorrah, God listened to Him and rescued Lot and his family before destruction came. As a matter of fact, it was God who initiated this intercession. In Genesis 18:17 it says And the Lord said, “shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing”. Abraham had just spent the entire day with the Lord. It was at the end of this incredible time with the Lord, that He told Abraham what His plans were so Abraham could intercede for the situation. First came fellowship, then came the secret, then came intercession. If you want to pray accurately for people, spend time with Him in the secret place and fellowship with Him, because only then will He tell you the secrets of His heart.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that there are two parts to being His friend. The second one of course involves other people. Jesus is very clear in scripture about how we are to relate to others.
Our Relationship with Others
First and foremost we are to lay down our lives for them. Just as He laid down His life for us, so we are to lay down our lives for Him by serving others. He tells Peter in John 21:15-17 “Feed My lambs; Feed My sheep”. He tells him three times, thereby reinforcing the importance of feeding or nourishing others. How do we do this? By spending time with Him and hearing His voice. In John 5:19 Jesus is talking to the Jews and He tells them this: “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son does also.” What makes us think that we can do things for others without spending time with Him, if He Himself could do nothing by Himself without first spending time with the Father? Perhaps laying down our lives involves spending time with Jesus?
Second, we are to love others. In John 15:16 He says “This is My command: Love each other.” Love is not a feeling, as much as the world would like us to believe it. It is an action word. Remember, in Matthew 25:40 Jesus tells us “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.”
Finally, we are to preach the good news, the Gospel. He told the disciples in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
When you look at the lives of both Moses and Abraham, they did these things. They believed, they obeyed, they loved others and they spent time with Him. I think so often we think that being a friend of God is optional or even worse, automatic. But it’s not. Why else would Jesus tell us in Matthew 7:21-23 “I never knew you. Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” That is a frightening thought, and it should put the fear of God into our hearts. I don’t want to stand before Him one day and hear Him say those words. Do you?