To have friends, one must be a friend. I have had a little success with this axiom of interpersonal relationships, but I am not a good practitioner. I became more concerned when I considered that Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). How does one act to become known in truth as God’s friend? Developing friends takes time; one must have time to listen, time to help out, time to “be there,” etc. How can one do these things for God?
On one occasion, Jehoshaphat called Abraham “thy friend” as he prayed for God’s help (2 Chron 20:7). But, of more significance, God himself referred to “Abraham, my friend” (Isa 41:8). Does it not send thrills through your soul to consider the possibility that God might refer to you in that way? Friendship is a two-way street. We can readily understand what God did for Abraham, but find only question marks when we consider what Abraham might have done for God.
I think I might be described as a good servant of God, but friend? How do I move up to that level?
Friends do more than obey; friends do more than ask. Abraham talked with God, he did not just make requests.
Abram complained to God because he did not have offspring and God responded with clarification of the Promise and renewal of the covenant. They talked back and forth. When God came down in person to promise Isaac, Abram laughed and proposed that Ishmael be the one (17:22). Rather than smite him, God reiterated the promise. Abram then expressed his faith by circumcising himself and his house.
Later, when Sarah laughed, she evidently did not know the guest was God, but by the time Abraham spoke on behalf of Sodom, he knew. He bargained with God, not as an equal but as one who had the right to so speak plainly. And God honored his pleas, and as a friend, went beyond them to rescue Lot from destruction.
Yet, Abraham did not presume on his friendship to think he could disobey. When God said, “Go offer,” he went and only the hand of his Friend kept him from fulfilling his obedience. Friends do great deeds for their friends.
So, today, how do I become a friend of God? Just praying the standard prayers is clearly insufficient. That is just asking/thanking. Where is the exchange that comes with friendship? To love the Lord with all my heart and soul and might involves more than an act of teeth-gritting determination to will it so. Being a friend involves much more than simple obedience. I must like God. More than worship him; more than obey him, God wants me to like him. He is not coming down to man’s level, he is asking me (and you) to step up and to consider him and to like him and be his friend.