My buddy Jim spoke at our worship gathering last Sunday. Here are some reflections on his treatment of “friendship with God.”
His text was John 15:14 “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
One thing I liked was how Jim regularly “confused” the phrases “friendship with God” and “friendship with Christ,” as though they were one and the same. And I agree. We cannot have one without the other.
Another point that got me thinking was on the conditional nature of this friendship/relationship. Jim made the point that other relationships that we have with God are not conditional – they just are. But this friendship with God is more responsive on our part. We enter into friendship as we obey. I am wary of a treatment that creates two classes of Christians: those who believe; and those who believe and obey. There have been many versions of this “staged” sanctification in church history, and I believe that all have been shown as flawed.
So is it possible that a true believer refrains from friendship with God? My theological framework argues against it, but I am glad for Jim’s message, and how it makes me wrestle with the issue.
I appreciated the point that Jim made, purposefully, that God is our friend, and that Christ has initiated friendship, even when we seem to withhold it. Our friendship with Him is grounded in His reaching out to us.
This is a subject that demands to be applied. Do I respond in frienship to the Lord? Do I love him? Am I in love with an idea, or with a book, but not with the Person? If so, I am afraid that my greatest danger is not a deficiency in my faith, but an absence of faith altogether.
Jim is a visual guy. It just wouldn’t be the same listening to a recording. And Jim speaks visually. He strives for word pictures, some of which land him in hot water. I’m still struggling with a contemporary greeting of Jesus that includes the words “how’s it hangin’?”
Thank you, Jim, for your ministry. And thank you, Lord, for giving us this verse of Scripture, and an entrance into this level of intimacy with the living God.