BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
It may sound blasphemous to some people to say that one can be God’s friend. God is so awesome, so holy, so powerful, etc. that man cannot stand all His perfect qualities and attributes to imagine being God’s friend. Such consideration is right but is not true because God Himself decided to stoop low to allow as many humans as possible who desire to be His friend to explore this possibility.
Therefore, it is neither a wishful thinking nor a tall desire to seek to become God’s friend. God desires to make friend with man and does not forbid man from coming into friendship with Him provided man meets His conditions.
Abraham is someone the Bible describes as the friend of God, and he was a mortal like you and me. “O our God, did you not drive out those who lived in this land when your people arrived? And did you not give this land forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham” (2 Chro 20:7 NLT). Isa 41:8 also refers to Abraham as God’s friend. “But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from my friend Abraham” (NLT).
James 2:23 tells us “Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous. He was even called ‘the friend of God’” (NLT). From this Scripture, we see the kind of person that Abraham was in his relationship with God. Abraham was a man who believed God and God declared him righteous.
Even in relationship with fellow human beings, there are parameters that guide parties in their relationship. Not everybody can be a friend to another person. Friendship is not by force; it is by choice. Those who want to be friends must be agreeable to the terms. They must be sensitive to the needs and desires of each other or one another. Prov 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” (NKJV).
Ordinarily, it is not possible for man to be God’s friend but this is possible because God wants it so. However, being God’s friend can only be on the terms of God. You cannot be God’s friend on your own terms. Whoever will be God’s friend must meet God’s requirements.
How to become God’s friend
I want to share with you these conditions so that you can become God’s friend, which is God’s desire for every Christian. How can you become God’s friend?
1.Separation unto God. To become God’s friend, you must first quit any relationship that sets you against God and be separated unto Him. James 4:4 says, “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God?” (NLT). Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Friendship with the world will hinder you from friendship with God. If you want to be God’s friend, you must first quit friendship with the world. You can’t be the world’s friend and also be God’s friend.
This goes beyond giving your life to Jesus because are many who though born again are still entangled with the world. “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20 NKJV).
Friendship with the world is a barrier to friendship with God. The two cannot go together. You cannot have your cake and eat it. If you want to enjoy friendship with God, you must cut off from the world. This is the first step towards friendship with God. “And when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before” (2 Peter 2:20 NLT).
2. Intimacy. If you want to be God’s friend, you must not stop at separating yourself from the world; you must progress to developing intimacy with God. Intimacy refers to close relationship with God. You cannot want to be God’s friend and you live your life distant from Him. You cannot be someone’s friend when you are disconnected from Him. Walking with God means that you maintain unbroken communication, fellowship with Him. Abraham who was referred to as the friend of God was invited by God to walk with Him and he did. Gen 17:1 says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless’” (NKJV).
It wasn’t only Abraham that walked with God. Enoch also walked with God. He had an intimate relationship. Gen 5:22 says, “Enoch walked with God three hundred years…” (NKJV). Verse 24 tells us that Enoch walked so intimately with God that he didn’t die – God took him home. “Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen 5:24 ASV).
Noah also did what Abraham and Enoch did. In his generation, he was outstanding. He didn’t allow himself to be negatively influenced to embrace the wickedness rampant in his generation which made God destroy the world then. Gen 6:9 says, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (NKJV).
If Abraham walked with God, and Enoch walked with God and Noah walked with God, you also can walk with God. This is a non-negotiable condition for being God’s friend. There must be a separation and a cleaving unto Him.
3. Openness and truthfulness. In any true friendship, there must be openness and truthfulness by the parties. True friendship demands that the parties be open and true to themselves. Anything short of that is fake. Friends are playing games with themselves when their relationship is devoid of openness and truthfulness. Such friendship is phony. True friends open up to each other and are frank in their interactions and communication.
That is why what Mic 7:5 says is a reflection of phony friendship. It says. “Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom” (NKJV). Friendship demands openness and truthfulness no matter how painful the effect on the parties. “Wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Prov 27:6 NLT).
If you want to be God’s friend, you must be open to Him. You must open your life to God – no secrecy, no hypocrisy, no deceit, etc. You must be honest; you must be transparent. It is in your own interest to do that because there is nothing hidden from God.
Moses enjoyed open communication with God flowing from his intimate relationship with Him. Exo 33:11 says, “So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (NKJV). You need openness and truthfulness for you to be God’s friend.
4. Faithfulness and commitment. Another twin requirement for being God’s friend is faithfulness and commitment. God will be a friend to those who demonstrate faithfulness and commitment. If you are a Christian and you are not faithful and committed to God, you cannot be His friend. Even among humans, friends are expected to be faithful and committed. If you are my friend, I should be able to count on you to be there for me at all times. But this is not always the case. Friends betray their friends. They let them down at their hour of need. They fail them at the most critical periods of their lives.
Job experienced this kind of disappointment from his relations and friends during his trials. “My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me” (Job 19:14 NKJV). In verse 19, he lamented, “All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me” (NKJV).
Perhaps there is nothing as devastating in relationships as someone betraying his friend. Job experienced this and the Master also experienced it at the highest level paying dearly with his life. “Jesus said, ‘My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.’ Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him” (Matt 26:50 NLT). With a friend like Judas Iscariot, you don’t need an enemy! Jesus even warned that in the end time his disciples would be betrayed by parents and brothers, relatives and friends who would put some of them to death (Luke 21:16).
True friendship is meant for faithfulness and commitment, not betrayal. Friends should not undermine friends (Job 6:27). Treachery in friendship is horrible. The unfaithfulness of a friend is worse than the stab of an enemy. Lam 1:2 says, “She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies” (NKJV).
Those who want to be God’s friend must rise up to the standard of God. He cannot put up with man’s low standard of friendship that is mostly built on selfishness. God’s friendship is built on love, and love gives self to others; love is troubling oneself for the person one loves. John 3:16 says God loves the world so much that he gave his only begotten son. Jesus also demonstrated this love to show us God’s standard of friendship. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (NKJV). Jesus died for His friends. It’s unfair to abandon your friend in their hour of need. When Jesus heard that Lazarus had died, He didn’t abandon him. Hear what He said: “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up” (John 11:11 NKJV). Prov 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (NKJV).
God showed us again an example of true friendship in Luke 11 where a friend had to go to another friend’s house at mid-night to trouble him to give him bread to give his friend who had arrived his house in the night from a journey. The Bible says, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:5-8 NKJV).
We cannot transfer to our relationship with God, the unfaithfulness and lack of commitment that is common in most human friendships today. We must go into God’s Word to see God’s standards for friendship if we want to be God’s friend. On His part, God will never fail us. 2 Tim 2:13 says, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (NLT).
We must not enjoy His faithfulness and all His blessings only for us to fail to stand for Him for one reason or the other. That is not the true mark of God’s friend. Stand on the Lord’s side (Exo 32:26). Don’t be a fair weather friend only interested in what to receive from Him, and never reciprocating His faithfulness and commitment.
5. Obedience. Jesus says in John 15:14: “You are my friends if you obey me” (NLT). If you want to be God’s friend, you must be ready to obey Him. Remember that you are a junior partner in this relationship. God calls the shots, and you obey. God’s instructions and commandments are not for discussions; they are for obedience. He who wants to be God’s friend must be read to obey Him to the letter. Obedience comes with blessings and disobedience comes with curses (Deut 28).
Prophet Nathan told King Saul that to obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). Prayer, offering, service, etc. can never be a substitute for obedience. God promises in Isa 1:19, “If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat” (NLT). If you want to be God’s friend, you must cultivate the habit of willing and prompt obedience.
6. Fear God. There is a difference between fearing God and being afraid of Him. The former is positive; the latter is negative. To fear God refers to have a reverential fear of God as we relate with Him, while to be afraid of Him is to dread Him, which leads to keeping away from Him.
Ps 25:14 says, “The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them His covenant” (NLT). God shares His secret with those who fear Him. Remember it is not possible to be God’s friend if God had not opened the door for man to come in. That does not make God and man equal. There should be no reason for familiarity with God. God is an awesome God and those who want to be His friend must know that though He is a loving God, He is also a consuming fire. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29 ASV).
The fear of God – reverence for Him – should be your watchword if you want to be God’s friend. It will be stupid for a citizen of a country to become familiar with the President of his nation who has decided to become his friend. I am sure a wise citizen will cherish the friendship and will do nothing to destroy it because he considers it a rare privilege. Friendship with God is superior to friendship with the President of any country including the most powerful president on earth.
Fear the Lord. The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7, 9:10). According to Prov 10:27, “Fear of the LORD lengthens one’s life, but the years of the wicked are cut short” (NLT). Prov 14:27 says, “Fear of the LORD is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death” (NLT). A similar benefit of the fear of God is conveyed in Prov 19:23: “Fear of the LORD gives life, security, and protection from harm” (NLT). These are some benefits that accrue to anyone who walks in the fear of God which is one of the conditions of being God’s friend.
Abraham, as we have seen, was called the friend of God but he never despised Him; he never engaged in familiarity, which they say, breeds contempt. He was never contemptuous of God. Abraham reverenced God despite his many years of walk with God. In Gen 17:1-3, we see how he humbled himself before God when He spoke with him: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to make you into a mighty nation.’ At this, Abram fell face down in the dust” (NLT). Did you see that? Abraham fell face down! That was a mark of humility, honour and worship.
With such an attitude, among other qualities of Abraham, he could continue to enjoy friendship with God. Fear God. “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom…” (Job 28:28 KJV). It is foolishness to do otherwise.
7. Sacrificial giving. God is a giver. He gave us His only begotten Son to save us from our sin (John 3:16). God drove out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan before the people of Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham His friend forever (2 Chron 20:7).
True friendship involves giving. And this is one of the qualities that we see in the Bible in the lives of those who had close walk with God. They generously gave themselves, their time, and other resources to God. Abraham was called the friend of God and he did not only give himself first to God, to follow His plan for his life, as written in Gen 12, he thereafter obeyed God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Gen 22). Enoch and Noah also gave themselves to obey God.
David, a man called “a man after God’s heart” was also a giver. In 2 Sam 24:24, he said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing” (NKJV). David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver to offer sacrifice to the Lord for the plague to stop. Someone not rich towards God would have jumped at the free offer of Araunah, but not David.
Your giving, if you want to be God’s friend, should be like that of the Macedonian churches. 2 Cor 8:2-5 says of the Macedonian churches, “Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us for whatever directions God might give them” (NLT).
Please, take note of the last sentence in that scripture. See the first action of the Macedonian churches: they dedicated themselves to the Lord and to the apostles for whatever directions God might give them. That was awesome! Did you see their sacrificial giving? Though they were going through much trouble and hard times, they still went ahead to give more than what they could afford. And they did this without being compelled, induced or manipulated. They even begged the apostles to collect their gift! That is uncommon.
That is one thing you need to do if you will be God’s friend – give yourself first to God before you give any material thing to God. In fact, if you are still struggling with giving to God your money or any material thing you have, it is because you are yet to give and surrender yourself to God. Those who are surrendered to God, know that they don’t own anything again – God owns them and everything they have.
Conclusion: God created man for relationship, and loves that we become His friend – a close companion, someone He can trust; someone He can depend on. That song writer, Joseph M. Scriven says, “What a friend we have in Jesus…!” We are usually happy and proud to sing that song. But does God have a friend in you? Can God boast about your friendship with Him? Can God depend on your friendship? Can God depend on you? Are you God’s friend? As I have said, being God’s friend comes with a price. Will you pay the price and start enjoying the benefits of friendship with Him? “God keeps an eye on His friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan” (Psalm 34:15 The Message).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947