In our social media world of friending, following, emojis and gifs, how do we guard against relationships becoming too virtual, with not enough real to them?
For example, God sent the ultimate “friend request” in the form of His Son, Jesus:
“I am the Way,” Jesus said. “I am the True Reality, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me” (John 14:6, TPT).
An offer to get “next” to God? Awesome opportunity, but how is that even possible?
Jesus went on to explain, “To know me is to know my Father too. And from now on you will realize that you have seen him and experienced him” (John 14:6-7, TPT).
So, the “friend” offer is real, but how does God expect us to “experience” Him?
Proverbs 18:24 tells us that “there are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
This “real friend” is what the Bible would classify as a covenant relationship, like the friendship David and Jonathan had (1 Samuel 18). It’s also the kind of relationship God had with Noah (Genesis 6), Moses (Exodus 19), David (2 Samuel 7) and Solomon (1 Kings 9).
But probably the most amazing covenant relationship we see in Scripture is the one God and Abraham had:
- “The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do…. For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own]’” (Genesis 18:17, 19, AMPC).
- “O our God…did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?” (2 Chronicles 20:7).
- “But you, Israel…whom I [God] have chosen, the offspring of Abraham My friend” (Isaiah 41:8, AMPC).
- “The scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God’…and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:23, NIV).
“Friend of God” was not an honourable mention given to Abraham by family and friends after he died. It was an endearment God used for him personally.
When it comes to taking Jesus up on His offer to get next to God, maybe you’re thinking that level of relationship is WAY out of your range. It’s not that you wouldn’t want something like that—it’s just you can’t imagine getting THAT close to Him (you know, full transparency and all that).
Oftentimes, we’re encouraged not to look back to the past for danger of getting stuck there and not being able to move forward in our faith and life to what lies ahead for us as new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But this is one of those times you need to at least look over your shoulder and catch a glimpse—or, better yet, a full-on gaze—of what God was up to back in the day. Once you do, you’ll probably want to course-correct (do whatever it takes), so you land yourself in the middle of a friendship with God like you never thought possible.
If you dare to look back, here are 3 Things To Expect When You Become Friends With God:
1. You Belong Next to God
“God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” –(Ephesians 2:4-6, NKJV)
Notice how the Apostle Paul speaks to us from the past—“When we were dead….” God “made us alive….” God “raised us up….” God “made us sit….”
This is all past tense. It’s all in our rear-view. It all happened long before we said Yes! to Jesus’ offer to come “next to the Father.” God sealed the deal long before you showed up, which is all part of a covenant relationship. It’s when one party (the Greater One), does for the other party (the lesser one) what they couldn’t possibly do for himself.
Paul drives the point home in Philippians 2:5-7, NASB:
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men.”
Why did Jesus forfeit His “equality with God”?
He did it so He could restore us to our original level of equality with God, to the level of relationship Adam and Eve had with Him before their “fall” (from equality with God) in the Garden of Eden. Jesus lowered Himself so He elevate us back to our children-of-God status (Romans 8:29).
So, just to be clear—God “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
That doesn’t sound optional, does it?
There’s no debate. No discussion. No confusion as to the seating arrangements. (If there is, see Matthew 22:44; Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:18-23; Revelation 3:21.)
Long, long ago, God made and reserved a place for you next to Himself. That’s where He saw you then. That’s where you need to see yourself now—in a place of power, authority, honour and glory.
That’s what only a covenant relationship—friendship—can do for you.
2. You’re in Good Company
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” –(Colossians 3:1-3)
As followers of Jesus, there’s an assignment we will ALL be working on for the rest of our lives on this earth—“setting our sights on” and “thinking about” the realities and things of heaven; and that’s to be expected. It’s something that even Jesus had to do while He was living down here (John 15:19, 17:14-16).
We’ve made the commitment to follow Jesus, and He has led us all the way into the throne room of heaven by having raised us to a “new life” with Him. Now it’s time to settle into our new home and new way life—our new way of relating to God, our new way of relating to people.
All that to say, each one of us is in transition. Our spirits were transformed, or reborn, the moment when we took Jesus’ offer. Our souls (mind, will, emotions) and bodies, however, are another matter. Those will take more time to transition, and that’s where we have to maintain our commitment by staying in process (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:22-24).
Again, Paul explains it like this:
“You were…[alienated] from the people of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God…. But now in Christ Jesus you who previously were far away [were made] near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13, NASB).
One moment we were far from God: the next, we’re up-close and personal. Now, it’s just a matter of taking some time for the rest of our being—our consciousness, awareness and thinking—to reprogram and catch up. It’s about focusing on and getting accustomed to the idea of being close to our heavenly Father.
Sadly, too many believers (though born again) still live as “aliens” and “strangers” to their covenant promises. They’re simply unaware of the potential their covenant relationship with God affords them, which is what prompted the Apostle Peter to write this:
“[God] has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. As a result of this, he has given you magnificent [covenant] promises that are beyond all price, so that through the power of these tremendous [covenant] promises we can experience partnership with [His] divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4, TPT).
That’s why you’ll hear Kenneth Copeland say that we need to be covenant-minded ALL the time—that is, if we’re going to experience the same closer-than-a-brother kind of friendship Abraham enjoyed with God.
3. It’s All on God
“The Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am [El Shaddai]; walk before Me, [having integrity]. I will make My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly…. And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” –(Genesis 17:1-2, 4-5 NASB)
Abraham was 99 years old when God appeared to him and established this covenant. A year later, Sarah gave birth to their son, Isaac—and the covenant unfolded from there.
When God introduced Himself to Abraham as El Shaddai (“Almighty God”), it’s no coincidence that the phrase refers to a nursing mother. A nursing mother is everything to her child. She’s that baby’s origin of life, source of nourishment and guide to all the world that baby is about to experience.
God was telling His friend Abram, “I’m your Everything—I’m All you’ll ever need!”
“Not only that, Abram [which means ‘exalted father’], but I’m changing your name to Abraham [father of a multitude] because I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
See how God was speaking to Abraham (like Paul spoke to us) from the past?
God had already determined Abraham’s destiny. He had established it—and now—He was declaring it already fulfilled!
Again, this was the result of their covenant relationship. It was the Greater One acting on behalf of the lesser one.
Brother Copeland tells the story of how Napoleon Bonaparte was reported to have been reviewing his troops on horseback one time, when the massive stallion he was riding suddenly bolted. Immediately, a young private stepped out from formation and gained control of the horse, calming it and potentially saving his commander from harm.
“What’s your name, Captain?” Napoleon asked the young soldier.
“Sir, I’m a private,” the soldier replied.
“What’s your name, Captain?” Napoleon asked, but this time with emphasis.
Napoleon knew he was speaking to a private. But with one word, he promoted him on the spot. As commander, Napoleon had the power and authority to make this soldier—someone he obviously could count on—what he wanted and needed him to be.
In the same way, God—with one word, Abra-ham—made an old, heirless sojourner what He wanted and needed him to be. And He will do the same for you if you will let Him.
In 2 Chronicles 20:21, AMPC, we find a common phrase used throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s covenant love for His friends…
“Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!”
The Hebrew word used in that phrase, chesed, describes God’s love as an obligatory love, something He has to do. Because you are in covenant with Him, God is obliged to love you, no matter what. What’s more, He goes around looking for reasons to love you.
So, you have God’s “friend request” and maybe you’ve already clicked “accept.” But if the relationship seems at all distant, or maybe a little too virtual, take Paul’s advice:
“Set your sights” and “think about” where you really belong, whose company you’re in, and what all God has done—and continues to do—to keep the friendship up close, personal…and real.
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