Friendship with God
Friendship with God
When I was 5 years old, I heard the message that God loved me so much that He sent His son Jesus to die for me and remove my sin so that we could be friends forever. I accepted this message eagerly - the God of the universe wanted to be my friend! I made the decision to make Jesus the Lord of my life and advocated everyone around me to do the same.
From then on, I was taught that God wanted me to pray and read my Bible. I prayed and read my Bible daily. Time passed, and I started to lose heart. Reading the Bible became a chore and seemed more like an academic requirement than a relationship. In college, I no longer desired God and hadn’t for a long time.
In my junior year, a class I was taking inspired me to read Philippians 3. Having a Christian upbringing through church and Christian schools, I wanted to know more about Paul’s background and thoughts about what it meant to have a “righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” as opposed to a righteousness that came from doing right things. I went on to read Romans which echoed this concept, specifically Romans 4 which mentions Abraham being “credited righteousness” because he believed. I then read Abraham’s story in Genesis. Abraham was considered to be “God’s friend” (Isaiah 41:8, 2Ch 20:7, James 2:23). I was reminded of being a child and having the excitement that I had when I accepted the message of friendship with God. Through thinking about Abraham and how he was friends with God without having ever read the Bible, I came to the realization that a friendship with God happened outside of Bible reading.
Looking back at it, I felt like I had made my ability to read the Bible my god, as opposed to believing the God who wrote it. I could relate with the words Jesus said to the Pharisees when He said, “You study the scriptures diligently because you think that in [the study of] them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). Abraham didn’t have any scriptures to study, yet Jesus said, “Abraham saw my day and was glad” (John 8:56).
I realized that I had been missing the relationship with God that existed outside of reading the Bible. I started thinking about my natural friendships and started comparing them to my friendship with God. While I knew that Scripture shows many ways we relate to God, I realized that I was not enjoying the blessings and benefits of a friendship with God. I pondered how I treated other friendships vs. my friendship with God:
I would hang out for hours.
I would make spending time with my friends a priority.
I would get excited about hanging out, talking and doing activities.
I would listen to things that friends were going through and paid attention to what they liked and disliked.
I trusted my friends, would listen to them, and act on their advice.
I would share things with friends that I was going through and fun ideas for the future.
Friendship with God:
I would schedule 10-15 minutes with God a day when I could spare it.
I approached God to tell Him what I needed and wanted.
I didn’t listen to what He liked or what He was saying.
I didn’t act like I trusted His words.
I didn’t follow through when I promised Him things.
God had died to be friends with me, and I didn’t value it enough to even pursue it like my other friendships. I had become lukewarm.
God revealed this to me by His Spirit and had graciously invited me back to the friendship with Him that we started when I was 5. I began interacting with God like I would interact with a good friend – I was brought back to the simple message that I understood as a child: friendship is what Christ did for me on the cross. Since then, I have seen every aspect of my relationship with God through different eyes.
I schedule hours of time in my calendar to hang out with God.
I pray to God and bring to Him my small questions, thoughts, and celebrations.
I read the Bible in search of God’s promises to practice believing like Abraham did.
When I think that God has told me something through prayer or in my reading of the Bible, I test it through my experiences and continually see testimonies of God working and responding in ways consistent with His character shown throughout the Bible.
I am inspired to believe God as Abraham did.