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Friendship With God: Part II

“I no longer call you servants…instead I called you friends…” John 15:15

Last month I wrote about one of the main points of my newest book (to be released in 2013) which is, namely, that God desires friendship with us above all else. This month, I want to look a bit more closely at the concept of “friendship” and examine this in light of what our Father is asking from us.

I’m not sure what kinds of answers you would get from the vast majority of Christians if you were to ask them, “Are you a friend of God?” I have a suspicion that the responses would run the gamut. There would be some who would say we can never truly know God, but must instead simply have faith in Him. Others would say, yes, I’m saved (even though that wasn’t the question). Some might say that Jesus is their friend, but they aren’t too sure about the Father. I’m pretty sure a bunch would just stare at you blankly.

It is no secret that the world is filled with a dangerous amount of “cultural Christians”. These are Christians who would consider themselves Christians because they believe all the essentials of Christianity, but their relationship with God pretty much ends there. They go to church (sometimes), say grace at meals, and may even attend a small group, but for most of the week life is just life and God remains at church.

If your starting point is cultural Christianity, you can ascend the ladder of various degrees of commitment to God, but for many, many Christians, if you get down to brass tacks and really pressed them on the issue, they would have to admit that they are more COMMITTED to God than they are FRIENDS with Him. At least, this was me for the vast majority of my life.

I remember going to youth group and church and hearing the preachers talking about how God wants to spit lukewarm Christians out of His mouth. This terrified me, because I knew that on the inside I was as lukewarm as you can get. On the outside I was doing everything right, but inside I was a mess. I always felt guilty, ashamed, and totally useless as a Christian. So I would try to drum up some enthusiasm for God, hoping that by singing louder or raising my hands in worship or reading my Bible more would somehow jump start the feelings that I just didn’t have. Towards the end, I was basically on the verge of giving up. I would just have faith in God, believe in Him, do what I was supposed to do, but any hope of there being anything more to the Christian life was fast becoming a pipe dream.

And right around then, God tapped me to make a strange little film called Finger of God.

Thus began a six year odyssey where God would take me from a lukewarm, barely believing Christian to a man who can confidently and humbly state that he is a friend of God. And along the way I learned a lot about friendship, as well as what my real problem was for most of my life.

I always focused on WHAT I DID when it came to my relationship with God, as if me working harder at something or doing more of it was going to somehow make God notice me. What I never understood or paid any attention to, however, was the fact that Christianity is not based on what you do, but rather on WHO you are doing it to. I was focused on the stuff, whereas God was simply asking me to focus on Him.

If you want to put a new name on the term “lukewarm”, try this: acquaintance. Think about it, what is lukewarm? It’s not hot, like a friend; not cold, like a stranger; it’s in the middle, like an acquaintance. If God is calling us to friendship with Him, then we must assume that the basic rules of friendship apply. A friend is someone who cares about you only for who you are, not for what you can give them. A friend will do anything for you, no matter how uncomfortable it might make them. A friend knows your heart, knows what you would want to do in almost any situation. A friend is always communicating with you, listening to you, and is happy simply to be in your presence and not say a thing.

An acquaintance, on the other hand, knows you mostly from a distance. They may have met you a few times, and would be able to say that you would know who they were if brought up in conversation. They are aware of what you do, because they’ve read about you a lot, or talked about you with others. They may subscribe to your podcast or newsletter. They may think they know you, but really they just know a lot ABOUT you. They don’t have access to the deep things of your heart.

It is time for the church, the Western church in particular, to stop focusing on stuff and instead start focusing on a Person. God does not want followers—for us to treat His kingdom like a Twitter feed or Facebook page that we visit once in a while, peruse from time to time, and even post our thoughts now and then is completely missing the point. I used to wonder if going to church, being a good person, and occasionally trying to get people to join my Jesus club was all there was to Christianity. After 6 years of hot pursuit, though, I now realize that all this has very little to do with Christianity. Jesus does not want lukewarm acquaintances. He desire white hot friends who want Him more than anything in the world.

1 Comment

  • Garrett

    "The greatest love is this, to lay your life down for your friends." (Jesus) Thank you Jesus for calling us to be your friends, and for being a friend to us way before we were a friend to you. Grace :)

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