A Relationship with Jesus
Seemingly, everyone knows about friendship. Many are fortunate to have close friends while others yearn for such closeness. Rather than a dictionary view of friendship, I thought I’d take a look at what some notables declare:
“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” Aristotle
“Recipe for having friends – Be one!” Elbert Hubbard (American writer)
“A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.” Elbert Hubbard
“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” Robert Louis Stevenson
“The worse solitude is to have no friendship.” Francis Bacon
These secular meanings of friendship have some validity. In fact, Aristotle, a pagan philosopher, had the closest to a Christian viewpoint. However, Jesus Himself explained such a reality to us: “At that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you” (John 14:20). Jesus then continued: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). As Jesus continued, His words may seem too harsh: “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).
Want to be a friend of Jesus? Then do what He commands? Whoa! What about my rights; what about my beliefs? Whoa again! What a wonderful jumping off point. Being saved means accepting Jesus and making Him Lord of your life. Yes, you can have plans, but perhaps use a pencil to write your plans in case the Lord has others which come first.
With modern advertising being so widespread and so intrusive, we need to constantly remember Jesus’ proclaiming that our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ever ask for it (Matthew 6:8). Furthermore, He reminds us, “Therefore, do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?” Jesus is either totally the Lord of our life or He isn’t. He reminds us that our effort is always to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness ( i.e. to be holy like Jesus so He can present us unspotted to the Father), and all the things we need will be given us (Matthew 6:31-34).
Let’s look at some of God’s friends to see their actions.
The only person mentioned in the Old Testament as a friend of God was Abraham. James repeats the Genesis account: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called a friend of God” (James 2:23-24; Genesis 15:6). James then adds, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” This comment refers to God’s command for Abraham to use Isaac as an offering (Genesis 22:2).
Many people wonder how could Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac, per God’s command? The answer is his foreknowledge. This is evident in Genesis 21:12 where God told Abraham, “It is through Isaac that your offspring shall be reckoned.” How could the prophecy about Abraham becoming the father of many nations be fulfilled without Isaac?
Approaching the mountain, Abraham told his servants, “We will worship and then we will come back to you (Genesis 22:5b). Abraham had total faith in God and was able to prepare to sacrifice his son. All along, God had a ram ready instead.
Imagine how pleased God was with Adam, the man He created. Then we see some of God’s loving personality as He saw that Adam was lonely after seeing all the animal couples. Therefore, He created a helper companion, Eve, and instituted marriage to join them.
Noah and Enoch were close to God as He walked with them. Enoch prefigured our singular destiny as he was raptured into heaven.
Other people close to God were Elisha and Elijah; and there is a teaching here. There is a scripture passage that relates: “The Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants, the prophets” (Amos 3:7). The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said that the Lord was going to take Elijah that day. Elisha told Elijah who said he already knew that! After crossing the Jordan, suddenly a chariot appeared with horses of fire, and Elijah was galloped to heaven.
The story of David’s friendly relationship with God has many teaching points. The first is forgiveness of sins. If you are troubled by past sins or have one so big that you think God would never forgive you, reflect on David’s action for murder and adultery. No sin is too great for our Lord’s loving forgiveness after our contrition and repentance. This illustrates not only God’s love for us, but His eagerness that we might be closer to Him. James reminded us, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The Father’s love is so manifest by having His Son die for all of us.
The second lesson from David’s life can best be described by Jesus Himself: “I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22, NIV). The NKJV is a little stronger in describing David as “a man who will do all My will.”
Earlier in this narrative, we were alarmed when we learned that we should do whatever God commands us. Can we now can say, “Make it so?”
In the New Testament, Jesus frequently visited Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as they lived in Bethany, just a few miles from Jerusalem. Clearly, they were friends of Jesus like His apostles and disciples.
In the upper room, Jesus expressed His friendship with His followers: “I have called you friends, for everything I learned from My father I have made known to you” (John15:15b).
We could be jealous of what the apostles learned, but Jesus knew this just as the apostles wanted more from Jesus. He replied, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom My Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things” (John 14:26). That same Holy Spirit who came to the apostles at Pentecost will come to us as we become Born Again or Saved, and He will teach us.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul lists nine gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 for us to build up the Body of Christ:
Word gifts– tongues, interpreter, prophecy.
Intellectual gifts– discernment, wisdom, knowledge.
Power gifts– healing, miracles, faith.
Ministerial gifts– exhortation, teaching, alms giving, leader, and works of mercy (Romans: 12:6-8).
By exercising these gifts, through the Holy Spirit, we can bring His power and love to people. It is a wonderful experience realizing that we are being used to bring people closer to the Lord or connecting with their needs. Perhaps ministering to the person is the start of a relationship. A word of caution here, as online talk sessions do not count; they cannot compare to close, real-life relationships. The highest friendship we can attain is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“We know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). It is great to develop such a now-relationship with Him knowing that it will carry over to the next life where we will behold His glory.
Unfortunately, Pope Francis proclaimed in 2015 and repeated in 2017 that a personal relationship with Jesus is dangerous without communion and mediation of the church. How can you have a close personal relationship with anyone with someone else having to mediate it? Contrary to this, I believe Jesus is a friend as, in my conversations, He once said, “Talk to me as your close friend. Share your joys as well as your sorrows with me.”
See books by Jerry McDermott on Amazon:
A Gilded Walk
Gifted-How God Is Glorified
Choices-For Our Eternal Home