There is an epidemic in America that we do not talk about. In spite of all our technology that keeps us ‘connected,’ I find that people are often lonely. I am sure you realize that it is possible to be lonely while surrounded by a crowd. Shaped by an American culture that idolizes individualism and that praises self-reliance, millions are trying live with few, if any, meaningful friendships. Add in our restlessness- moving to new towns, finding new churches, leaving family behind – and it is not hard to understand why so many are so alone. We are not taught to deeply value friendship, mistaking having a few laughs with ‘friends’ for sustaining, committed life-long relationships.
We bring all of that to our spiritual experience. One of the heavy weights on my heart is that people do not understand the importance of cultivating friendship with God! Many Christians are content to be His acquaintance. They know something about God and ‘visit’ with Him on the occasional Sunday when they join a church congregation but a Friend to them? They could not honestly claim that. But that is exactly why God made us – that we could know Him, love Him, and honor Him with our daily living.
Does thinking of God as a “Friend” strike you as strange? Look at the intimacy of which David sang. “I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy … Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness. Young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God. Come, children, listen closely; I’ll give you a lesson in God worship. Who out there has a lust for life? Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty? … God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan.” (Psalm 34:1-2, 10-12, 15, The Message)
Moses, when he was leading the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, knew the importance of living as an intimate of the Lord, in the center of His Presence. The people wanted something simpler, a ‘religion’ that would allow self-indulgence. Craving a spiritual experience, they went to Aaron while Moses was away, insisting on an idol. He gave them the golden calf and they replace friendship with the true God with a revel in sensuality! The Lord was angered by their perfidy and withdrew His Presence from them. Moses, ever the intercessor for the people he led, prayed this plaintive and amazing way that reveals his friendship with the Lord: “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” Exodus 33:15-16
Christian, does your friendship with God make you distinctive? Do you know Him in such a way that every moment of every day is shaped around the pursuit of His Presence? We can know, many do not, the abiding Presence of God. He does not require us to live in monasteries to know Him. He does ask us for an exclusive love and refuses to allow us to be filthy in mind, rebellious in spirit, or self-seeking. James teaches us about walking in God’s Presence. “If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.” (4:4-6 Msg)
Jesus told us that we need not feel like orphans. We can be, because of Divine love and grace, the beloved children of God. And that friendship that calls us to holiness means that we are never alone because the Spirit lives in us. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17
So, be a friend of God. Live in the Presence! Don’t let the empty noise and frantic activities of the crowds keep you from living close to His heart.
Friend Of God
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing
(It’s amazing it’s amazing)
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls (You call) me friend
God Almighty Lord of Glory
You have called me friend
Israel Houghton | Michael Gungor © 2003 Integrity Worship Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (IMI)) Integrity’s Praise! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (IMI))
CCLI License # 810055