Strong friendships are some of the most life-giving relationships we can know, while the betrayal of a close friend can usher into our lives some of the deepest pain humans can experience. Most of us, when making decisions around our social life—friendship fostering or avoidance—play a scales game, weighing past benefit and loss against future promise or risk. This is all very natural and may even lead to lifelong friendships, but it isn’t where the Christian starts when it comes to developing relationships with others.
As Christians, we center all that we are on God and his character. We start with him and then move out to consider our particular experiences and opportunities. Our love for God drives us to pattern even our social life after him. After all, we were created in the image of our Trinitarian God who, as three persons and one God, has always been social. And we are also redeemed to be progressively conformed to the image of Jesus. So, in our creation and redemption, God intends us to be and become like him. So what do we find when we consider God and friendship?
The Three Friends God Keeps
- God is friends with himself. What I mean by this is that God is Trinitarian—one God in three persons. Without being too casual in our phraseology, we might say that God has always had a social life, even before he created anything. He did not create humanity because he was lonely. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been in perfect relationship for all eternity. Because we are made in God’s image, we are also made for relationship with God and should pursue relationship with God through our mediator, Jesus Christ. We are friends with God first.
- God is friends with his people. God is not the cosmic watch maker, winding the world up only to watch it tick down. He has been actively involved in the lives of his people, cultivating a friendship with them (Gen 3:8-9; Ex 33:11). Most clearly, God befriended his chosen people in the earthly ministry of Jesus where Jesus, speaking to his disciples, said, “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends” (John 15:15). Certainly this is another motivation for us to pursue friendship with God like we mention above but it is also an encouragement to cultivate friendships with Christians, God’s chosen people, just as God does.
- God is friends with those who are not Christians. God’s friendship extended even to those who were not his people, even those who were his enemies (Matt 5:44; 11:19). Jesus even cultivated a friendship with Judas, who would betray him (John 13:11). Part of the mercy of God is that he is kind even to those who will undergo his eternal punishment for sin (Matt 5:45). This doesn’t mean that we should pursue relationships with people that are dangerous or hurtful, but it does mean that we should be in relationships, and at times, friendships with those who are not yet Christians as we follow God’s example and pray for their salvation.
Out of a love, then, for God, let us pursue first a saving relationship with him, even as we follow his example, and cultivate friendships within and outside our local church.
- Praise God for the birth of Calvin Harris to Chris and Julia Harris.
- The summer is upon us. These are the months where hosting folks in your home and attending community events are easier than in the doldrums of winter. How will you use your summer to build friendships to the glory of God?
- Most of our community groups are continuing through the summer. Get in touch with me if you’re curious about joining one.
- For various reasons, giving in the summer months is traditionally abysmal for churches. Don’t let vacations and changes in your schedule hamper your generosity goals for 2016.
- I already have folks signing up for our next New Members Class. Let me know if you’re interested.
- Don’t miss this Sunday when we’ll look at Psalm 18 and what it means to avoid Christian fakery, finding God’s grace abundantly applicable for our everyday life.