Friendships that Refresh the Soul (pt 2): Friendship with God
What would you say if someone asked you who Jesus is to you? When you think of Jesus, what do you think of? Take a minute to think about it. I've once sat in a room where this classroom was asked and was blown away by the responses. To some, Jesus is represented by those considered the least of these. Sometimes that looks like a man in old and shabby clothes, living under the bridge or the beggar at the street corner. To another person he is present in the ocean while waiting on a surfboard to catch the next wave. To others, he is looks like a more familiar figure like a mentor or a parent. Your answer to that question is powerful because the way you describe him is the way you perceive Jesus. Our perception of Jesus is so unique to who you are and your life experiences.
As a continuation of this series on friendship, I wanted to talk first about friendship with God. Friendship with God is so important because it is through God's perfect friendship that we can get firsthand experience on relationships. As people created in his image, we are made to have a longing for relationship with God. After all, his plan to send Jesus made it possible for us to walk through life together with our creator. Experiencing friendship with God is crucial to know what fellowship with others should be like (as described in Acts 2). It's similar to is said about pursuing a romantic relationship in Christian settings.. If relationship with God doesn't satisfy you, then no human relationship can bring true joy and satisfaction. Here's the thing, depending on your experience with God, it might be uncomfortable to see God as a friend. Maybe you see God as a savior more than a friend or rather a Father more than a friend. I remember growing up often hearing about God as someone who hates sin and therefore my image of him was like a judge more than anything else. Not that any of these characteristics are wrong, but as we continue to build a relationship with God, we are continually transformed by the entire nature of who God instead of one aspect of his character.
Depending on how you see God already, it takes time and effort learning to see God as a friend. Imagine Simon and Andrew's story while fishing at the Sea of Galilee. One early morning, they take their equipment and go out to their usual spot in Galilee and start their jobs as fishermen. All of a sudden a man named Jesus, who probably knows very little about fishing, approaches them and says "Hey, you like fishing? Well how about I make you fishers of men." Maybe you think that is totally weird... and you're probably right, but often the beginning of building any relationships has the potential to be a little awkward and uncomfortable. The point is, Jesus met them exactly where they were, which was in Galilee where they did their 9-5. Thus Jesus' invitation and the disciples' acceptance begun a powerful and life changing journey with Jesus.
Forming a friendship with God is like any other friendship, it takes time and intentionality. God does not want to stay confined to the 30 min devotional time you set in the morning. He wants to be in all of your life. When we experience friendship with God, it's not just about having knowledge of his nature but it is truly experiencing God's nature affects our lives. I've once heard the Bible described as the only book in where when you read it, it reads you. Friendship with God is experiencing the truth of what the Bible says about God at work in your own life. For example, a pastor can talk about God's forgiveness from his knowledge of reading the Bible and various sources, but it would not be the same as if he were to preach from a place of being forgiven and transformed by God's forgiveness. When we welcome God to do life together with us, we get to let the truth of his nature transform our understanding of who He is and who we are created to be.
I challenge you this week in doing one thing that is intentional with your friendship with God. Like the disciples, you can start with something that is natural to you, and simply let God meet you where you're at. All you have to do is accept that invitation to do life together with God. Take time to hangout with God and know him as a friend. This is one friendship that I promise, won't ever abandon you or let you down. In fact, Jesus told his disciples "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 know to you." (John 15:15)
As you seek God in friendship this week, I pray that it will transform the way you know and understand God and his idea towards friendship. If we are to be people that are intentional with our community, then we must let our friendship with God be our ultimate friendship.