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.
Nevertheless, God has been inviting humanity into friendship with Him since the beginning of time, starting with Adam and Eve. They literally, physically knew Him as their friend. They walked with Him in the cool of the day, communed with Him in the Garden and talked with Him along the way. They experienced an amazing real relationship with the God of the Universe – – – until the day they became convinced that God is not a good friend. Without a great deal of thought, they unfriended their Creator and decided to friend and follow someone else. Turns out, they friended their enemy, who was cunningly disguised as a friend – which, of course, he was anything but. The brokenness that followed shattered all creation. Ever since humanity has not been born into friendship with God but has entered this world in a broken relationship with Him.
God has not given up on us, though. The magnificent story of the whole Bible, from beginning to end, is the story of how He is reaching out to humanity to re-engage in a relationship with Him. Over and over, throughout the centuries, He has sent many requests, through invitations such as,
“Return to Me!” (Zechariah 1:3), “Return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 30:2), and “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12).
God then chose to articulate His friend request in a new way. It was in fact His redemption plan all along. God sent part of Himself – His Son – to earth to deliver the remarkable message. God in the flesh, fully God, fully man, hand-delivered the invitation signed with His very own name. Through the ages, the invitation had always been “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved” (Joel 2:32). The angel told Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). So now, when God sent His Son as Savior, the Name of the Lord became ever more personal: His Name is Jesus.
Jesus so much wants to be your friend and my friend that, not only was He born into this world to walk amongst us, He was willing to die in our place and pay the price for our sins. Jesus told His followers, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). He said this, and then He did it.
Jesus laid down His life for us then took it back up into victory. And all we must do to accept His friend request is to believe in His Name. Scripture says, “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
This friend request doesn’t require internet access, wifi capability, power grids, or solar energy. It doesn’t need new technology, the latest gadgets. or inventions of any kind. What’s more, God’s invitation isn’t limited to certain parts of the world or particular people groups. Jesus’ friend request is for every single person. The Old Testament invitation is echoed in the New: “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:12-13).
When we do this, when we call on Jesus, we begin the adventure of a real relationship with Him. In this, Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants… Instead, I have called you friends” (John 15:15).
Jesus calls us friends when we accept His friend request.
What’s more, accepting His friend request isn’t just a past-tense, one-time decision. Just like in our relationships with the special people in our lives, the more time we spend in a relationship with Jesus, meeting with Him, and getting to know Him, the deeper and more intimate our friendship becomes. His is a friendship we can and should continue to respond to and accept every single day of our lives.