Theology Thursday: Friendship With God

By Michael Gleghorn, Faculty, College of Theology

hands reaching out symbolizing friendship with God

Most people recognize friendship as a great good. Friendship has been discussed by philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, as well as theologians, like Thomas Aquinas. Much thought and attention has been devoted to understanding both the benefits and responsibilities that attend such a relationship. But did you know that the Bible has something to say about how we might enjoy friendship with God? Indeed, some have had this good fortune already!

In the book of Isaiah, God refers to Abraham as “my friend” (Isaiah 41:8, ESV). In Exodus we learn that “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (33:11). And in the Gospel of John, Jesus calls his disciples “friends” (15:15). It’s astonishing to think that such an incomparable good as friendship with God is made freely available to any who might desire it. What could possibly be greater than having God as one’s friend? How is such a relationship possible?

Friendship Begins With Reconciliation

While friendship with God shares similarities with human friendships, there are important differences as well. To begin, we must remember that this is not a relationship between equals. Friendship with God must be accepted and pursued on His terms—not ours. God is the Creator, King and Lord of the universe; we are mere creatures—and fallen ones at that. Friendship with God thus finds its origin in reconciliation with Him. We must humbly recognize that our sin has separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2). We need for this relationship to be mended and restored.

Mercifully, God has taken the initiative of providing for us to be reconciled with Him through “the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). Indeed, Paul tells us that he did this while we were still his “enemies.” But we must receive this proffered reconciliation if we are ever to become God’s true friends (2 Corinthians 5:20). Reconciliation brings peace with God, restoring the relationship that had been broken by our sin. Friendship with God must begin here.

Friendship Brings Great Benefits

Friendship with God brings great benefits. God takes a special interest in the welfare of His friends. He cares for them, provides for them, loves, counsels, comforts and encourages them, and ultimately, receives them to Himself (Genesis 22:14; John 13:1; 14:26; 17:23; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; 5:1-9; 1 Peter 5:7). But the greatest benefit of having God for one’s friend is, quite simply, having God for one’s friend. Friendship with God is its own reward. God is the greatest conceivable good, and the source of all other goods. To know and enjoy God is the very essence of life (John 17:3). This is what we were made for, and apart from God we cannot attain our true end or purpose. In friendship with God, we find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).

Friendship Entails Real Responsibilities

But friendship with God also entails real responsibilities. After all, what would you think of someone who claimed to be your friend, but was consistently unfaithful and disloyal to you? Would you consider that person a “real” friend? Probably not. Our friendship with God is thus practically demonstrated through our loyalty, allegiance and obedience to Him (James 4:4). As Jesus reminded his disciples, “You are my friends if you do what I command you,” (John 15:14). How could it be otherwise? Friends look out for one another, stick up for one another, and remain true to one another. That is part of the essence of friendship.

We see, then, that friendship with God begins with reconciliation, leads to intimacy with (and enjoyment of) Him and results in the sanctification and development of our character. Friendship with God transforms us and enables us to truly flourish.

Read more Theology Thursday blogs and learn about theology and ministry degree programs offered by GCU's College of Theology today. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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