Part of church’s weekly prayer gathering involves a ‘kingdom focus.’ Here we read and explain some portion of Scripture that directs our prayers in a direction specifically tied to kingdom concerns. This, I believe, helps keep us balanced in our praying. Currently we are going through Hebrews and in thinking about the author’s comments on Melchizedek, I read back over some passages about Abraham. One passage that stuck out to me was James’ comment – “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God” (2:23).
Friendship with God. Have you ever thought about this? Friendship usually results from a mutual need – companionship. Two people enjoy each other’s company, and usually compliment each other with different strengths and weaknesses that. But this cannot be the case with God. Scripture is clear that He lacks nothing. Furthermore, He has no need of companionship from us. The Father, Son, and Spirit have always enjoyed perfect, eternal fellowship. So then, what does it mean to be a friend of God?
James says that “’Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’ — and he was called a friend of God.” Friendship with God comes from faith. Furthermore, that faith results in obedience. That is to say, Abraham did not just believe something about God. That belief allowed to boldly obey the command of God to kill his own son – Isaac, the son of promise (Genesis 22). He believed that God would not fulfill his promise, so somehow, God would bring Isaac back to life (Hebrews 11:17-19). Of course, God did not allow Isaac to be sacrificed, but provided a ram to be sacrificed. The point is this: Abraham’s trust in God allowed him to live a life of obedience. This is what made him God’s friend.
Likewise, if we are to be considered God’s friend, we must be diligent to live out of the obedience of faith. The great pastor and preacher C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) said this:
“The obedience that comes from faith is a noble obedience. The obedience of a slave ranks only a little higher than the obedience of a well-trained horse or dog, for it is tuned to the crack of the whip. Obedience that is not cheerfully rendered is not the obedience of the heart and, consequently, is of little worth before God. If a person obeys because he has no choice in the matter and would rebel if he had the opportunity, there is nothing in his obedience. The obedience of faith springs from an internal principle and not from external compulsion. It is sustained by the mind’s most sober reasoning and the heart’s warmest passion.”
That’s the kind of obedience that we have in Christ. Because of the cross, we who were once his enemies, have now been reconciled to him (2 Cor 5:16-21). That’s friendship language. That means our obedience to the Lord is not driven by fear but “by the mind’s most sober reasoning and the heart’s warmest passion.” The result is not just serving God, but living as his friend.
May we rejoice in the friendship we have with God through Christ! For while He may not benefit all that much from being our friend, we will certainly receive much from Him.
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”
– Psalm 34:8-10