In my latest retreat, I enjoyed some rest, did some writing and discovered a lot about what I really believe about God and His role as a friend in my life. Now, don't misunderstand, I wasn't having a crisis of faith, but sometimes without realizing it, I allow human behavior to define God's character.
I've been devastated by several people whom I considered close friends over the years and those experiences cloud my perception of God as a friend. That probably sounds silly, but just put it in your own context. If your father on earth was uncaring or abusive, for example, it's probably more difficult for you to make a leap to understanding God as a loving Father who never would hurt you. If your spouse has been unfaithful, it probably isn't easy for you to trust Jesus as the bridegroom of the church. Or if someone calling himself a Christian has behaved in an unloving, unkind or hypocritical way, you probably think God is the same.
So on my latest retreat, God challenged me to think through whether I was limiting our friendship because I was defining His friendship in earthly terms. In truth, I was. My concept of God as a friend needed to grow and break free from the weeds of bad experiences that were choking it out. I asked Him to define our friendship in His own words from scripture. You know, He's really amazing.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'
Gee, that sounds like someone in my corner.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."
Jesus doesn't hold back anything for His own gain. He doesn't use me for His own advantage and He gave up everything for me.
"Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!"
Thank you God, for putting a new face on friendship for me. Yours!