FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD
So I’m thinking friends. I was leading chapel this week at Southern Cross and having a conversation with the residents about friendship, and our earliest recollections. There were some wonderful and moving stories told through lenses of deep emotional connection over long years. These were relationships birthed during the great depression, and when the world was at war.
My contribution to the storyline was Cheryl, my first girlfriend and next-door neighbour. Our fathers were police officers, so we were PK’s, and as is often the case, they moved away. Heartbroken, I didn’t want to go to kindergarten anymore (and didn’t). Something had changed. Friendship lost. No social media to keep in touch. It was Tasmania early 1960’s. They were still using carrier pigeon.
“Jesus! What a friend for sinners, Jesus lover of my soul!”
“I’ve found a friend, O, such a friend! He loved me ere I knew Him.”
And then there’s “What a friend we have in Jesus!” Originally written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. He was in Canada after his fiancé drowned tragically while crossing a bridge over the River Bann in Ireland. He found love again in Elisa Roche, only for her to die of pneumonia before they could marry. Scriven originally published the poem that made up the lyrics for the hymn anonymously. The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Friendship with God. There are only two people in the Old Testament referred to as ‘friends of God’ (see 2 Chronicles 20:7 cf James 2:23; Exodus 33:11). Are you a ‘friend’ of God? What makes you a friend of God? The words of Jesus (often quoted in the context of ANZAC day) remind us of God reaching toward us in His Son, along with our response to His love and offer of friendship:
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:12–15 (NLT)
Interestingly, Jesus would demonstrate extreme love by laying down His life for His enemies.
Again, are you a friend of God? How is your love toward others? (cf James 1:19-21, 26-27: Are you an angry person? Is there filth and wickedness in your life? Do you humbly accept the word of God? Are you unchecked with your tongue? Do you care for widows and orphans?) Is your love like that of Jesus? Is your obedience to Jesus a priority or an optional extra?
Friendships have a way of rubbing off on us, like dogs start to look like their owners? If we claim to be a friend Jesus, we’ll start ‘looking’ like Him.
Oh, and Cheryl? We ended up at the same high school for a while 10 years later, but the flame was gone.