At first thought, the idea of seeing God as a friend would astound and baffle most of us.
I mean, we’re talking about the majestic creator of the universe here! The same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who spoke a gazillion stars into existence. He’s the architect of time, infinite galaxies, our Almighty Father, the King of everything we know…
… and He wants to be our… friend? :O (audible gasp)
I mean, I don’t know about you. But if there’s ever a perfect instance of feeling ‘unworthy’, this would probably be it. Heh.
However, incredibly, this is exactly what God desires by His divine grace. God wants to befriend us, His children.
But what does it mean to be a friend of God?
Let’s explore what the Bible says!
Does God invite us to be friends with Him?
The short answer is ‘yes’!
However, I think it’s crucial for us to keep the right perspective here and not get ahead of ourselves.
Let’s not forget our place.
First, God’s desire to be friends with us absolutely does not equate to us treating Him as we would our ordinary human friends, our fleshy equals.
Instead, we must begin by never, ever forgetting that God is God.
This means always having a healthy fear (i.e. reverence) for Yahweh. He is the one and only God (2 Samuel 7:22) who is absolutely righteous (Psalm 119:137), holy (Isaiah 6:3), timeless (Revelation 1:8), Almighty (Genesis 49:25), the builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4), the unfailing ruler of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19)…
Well, you get the picture!
In short, while God does indeed welcome us to be His friends, we must at the same time always hold fast to rightfully worshipping the unending power of our divine Creator. And never lose sight of that.
God as a friend.
With the above being said, there are indeed several instances in the Bible where God reveals His willingness to befriend His people.
For example, when Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to consult with God (Exodus 33:8-9)…
Abraham, too, entered into a similarly described relationship with our Father.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.James 2:23
Of course, I know many of you are thinking: “But… that’s Abraham and Moses! Of course God befriended them. They’re His special chosen ones; I’m not. I’m just an ordinary believer.”
Well, yes, it’s true that most of us won’t be called to be fathers of many nations – nor tasked with leading tons of people to the Promised Land.
However, in the New Testament, God makes clear His current desires for all of us to be friends with Him. As said by Jesus:
Remember, Jesus did not give his life for only his original twelve disciples.
Rather, the Son of God laid down his life for all our sins – for all the world, across all time (John 3:16-17; 2 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:19).
Thus, what Jesus says here applies just as much to us today as it did to those he was directly speaking to. After all, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So too are his desires to nurture friendships with his beloved flock.
In short, via John 15:13-15, Jesus – who is God in the flesh – “wants us to see he desires us—he wants us to view ourselves as his dear friends. He wants us near him, near his heart.” (Hunter 2018)
So what does it mean to be a friend of God?
In broad terms, ‘true friendship’ is a kind of relationship defined by certain key qualities.
Of course, each of us differs in how we regard specific friendships with various people. No two friendships are exactly the same.
However, I believe most of us will agree that having a true friend generally involves, at the very least, a genuine desire to:
- trust each other;
- be honest, from the heart;
- give comfort, especially in times of need.
Similarly, God expresses His desire for us to enter into such a close and loving friendship with Him, shaped by all the above qualities.
To elaborate, we’ll take a look at the Bible!
God as a friend, Quality #1: Two-Way Trust
In most cases, we tend to trust our closest friends. This is despite the fact that they, like us, are imperfect and failable people.
This raises the question: if we’re already willing to trust our human friends, how much more should we seek to trust God as a friend, who loves us perfectly and unfailingly? (Psalm 143:8)
Trust in Him.
Indeed, across the Bible, God makes crystal clear His wishes for us to have absolute trust in Him.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal.Isaiah 26:4
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.Proverbs 29:25
Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.Psalm 32:10
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.Psalm 143:8
I could cite dozens more verses – but you get the gist!
God wants us to trust Him. He invites us to put our full faith in Him, not only as our divine Creator and heavenly Father – but also as a friend we entrust our lives to.
Trust in us.
Of course, trust in friendship is always a two-way street. We hope to have dependable friends who also feel they can depend on us – with confidence.
Likewise, God wants to trust us, too!
He wishes us to seek, obey, and rely on His guidance on things that matter to His heart, small or big.
In so doing, each of us can slowly be entrusted with more (Luke 16:10). This increase in trust is exactly how friendship grows over time!
Once again, God’s desire to trust isn’t simply limited to ‘big name’ people like Moses (Numbers 12.7). Instead, He extends this relational invitation to each of us, across contexts.
As illustrated by the Parable of the Three Servants:
After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’Matthew 25:19-21
The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
Of course, God isn’t only talking about literal bags of silver here. Rather, this parable captures His wider aims to entrust us with the calling and duties He has for each of our lives.
In addition, while the parable refers to a master and servants, we remember that Jesus declares his will to also regard us as friends – insofar as we follow His commands (John 15:15).
Put simply, we are simultaneously God’s servants and friends, learning to trust in Him as He trusts in us, his befriended worshippers.
God as a friend, Quality #2: Being Honest
Ideally, we try to be truly honest with our closest friends, sharing our real dreams, fears, thoughts, and feelings with each other.
God is always honest with us.
In a similar sense (but to an absolute holy measure), God never lies to us – and thus, is always honest in what He says. He’s incomparably more honest than even our greatest friends!
In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages beganTitus 1:2
God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?Numbers 23:19
So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.Hebrews 6:18
In short, God is the most honest friend we can ever hope to have!
We should always be honest with God, too.
Let’s face it. No matter how hard we try, it’s impossible for us to be 100% honest with our friends, 100% of the time.
However, being a friend of God is very, very different.
Why? Well, for starters, God is all-knowing.
That means He knows everything about us, our truest thoughts, our entire lives – even before we do!
For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.1 John 3:20
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.Psalm 139:4
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.1 Samuel 16:7
Yet, while God already knows us fully, He still welcomes us to boldly share and open our hearts to Him in prayer. He wants us to willingly approach Him in full honesty.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.Hebrews 4:16
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13
Moreover, most Psalms (and the Bible on the whole) encourage us to regularly turn to God, in raw (often messy) honesty, with true and open hearts.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!”Psalm 130:1
“All my longings lie open before You, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from You.”Psalm 38:9
Thus, while God is infinitely greater than just ‘being a friend’, it is by His amazing grace that He desires such a close relationship with us.
And this means choosing to trust in His honesty – while honestly sharing our innermost hearts with Him, always.
God as a friend, Quality #3: The greatest Comforter
We all seek comfort from our friends. Especially so during hard times, when we’re feeling sad, lonely, worried, etc.
Well, the stunning news is that God extends His hand to offer us the truest of all comforts – both as our eternal Father and the greatest friend we can rely on.
Many Bible verses let us know this. Here are but a few:
May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant.Psalm 119:76
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.Psalm 23:4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3
And, as Jesus – who wishes for us to call him friend – eternally promises:
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4
In short, God is and will always be our most comforting friend, unsurpassed by anyone. We can rest in His steadfast care – for every moment, amid any occasion.
Throughout the Bible, and specifically with the words of Jesus, God reveals his keenness for us to trust, be honest with, and take comfort in Him.
With a healthy concurrent fear (i.e. reverence) of the Lord, these qualities capture the heart of seeing God as a friend who never disappoints us, as He chooses to love us for all eternity.
So, what are you waiting for? Open your hearts up to befriending God today!
After all, prayers travel way faster than any late-night text you can ever send.
Amen, my brothers and sisters in Christ. 🙂