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How to be counted among God’s friends

Having God as our friend, we can indeed say that “there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.” For He Himself has said to His people: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

By JENSEN DG. MAÑEBOG

LIKE A COMFORTABLE blanket in a cold night, friendship provides warmth. From the people we let in to our lives as friends, we learn how to socialize, take responsibility, and even weather the ups and downs in life.

Good friends show us how to reach out, forgive, and be selfless. They help us choose better lifestyles, cope with stress, and recover from health problems faster. In spending time with them, we load our lives with fine conversations, delightful moments, and unhesitant hilarities. Indeed, life seems to be a terrible, ugly place without true friends around.

The Bible on friendship
The Holy Scriptures recognize the value of friendship. The Book of Proverbs states that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24 New International Version). The Book of Ecclesiastes pronounces:

“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eccles. 4:10 NIV)

Friendship entails love and sacrifice. The Lord Jesus proclaimed:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)

Nevertheless, the Bible teaches us to be “cautious in friendship”
(Prov. 12:26 NIV) as it warns us, thus:

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Prov. 22:24–25 NIV 2011)

Be counted as friend of God
Many find it beneficial to have “friends in high places,” believing that these people can help them get what they want. But as we all know, even those in power can only do so much as they themselves have needs in this life, not to mention limitations.

Nobody is more fortunate than the ones who are friends with the Almighty God to Whom belong “even the highest heavens; the earth … and everything on it” (Deut. 10:14 Good News Bible). And there are people who are really considered by God as His friends:

“But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends …” (Col. 1:22 GNB)

The beneficiaries of Christ’s death are considered by God as His friends. Identifying where these fortunate persons are, Apostle Paul taught, “Christ loved the church and gave his life for it” (Eph. 5:25 GNB). This Church, for which Jesus died, is not just any church but “the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood” (Acts 20:28 Lamsa Translation). Hence, the members of the Church Of Christ are God’s friends.

Fortunate friends
Never is it a small thing that God made the Church Of Christ members His friends, especially when considering their former condition. “At one time” they were “far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things” they “did and thought” (Col. 1:21 GNB). As such, they were among those destined to be devoured by fiery indignation (Heb. 10:27) and punished in the lake burning with fire (Rev. 21:8).

But since God loved them and “sent His Son to be the propitiation” for their sins (I John 4:10 New King James Version), there is now no condemnation to them (Rom. 8:1). Indeed, God’s genuine love toward them was manifested when He made them His friends, for this means that they are the ones whom He wants to join Him in His kingdom come the Day of Judgment.

The privilege of being God’s friends
Lending an ear is essential in friendship. Its looked-for pledges include “I’m always here for you.” As a friend, God does that and more, as the Psalmist exclaims,

“Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” (Ps. 116:2 NIV)

Many say that a true friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you. Not only does God know His friends totally, He also does not forget about them (Isa. 49:15). Specifically, to His messenger in these last days and the fruits of His last work of salvation, that is, to Church Of Christ members, God says:

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10 NKJV)

His faithful promises to His nation also include: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” (Heb. 13:5 New Living Translation 2015)

That is why even when His friends misstep, God is ready to forgive and cleanse them, as long as they honestly confess their sins to Him (I John 1:9), leave their evil ways, and change their unrighteous thoughts
(Isa. 55:7; Jer. 3:12–13).

 

Friendship is grounded on the feeling that one knows exactly who will be there for him when he needs something, no matter what or when, especially when he feels alone as he encounters trials and difficulties in life. True enough, in bad times, such as when dealing with the death of a loved one, lost opportunities, societal pressures, and crushing stresses in daily lives, God’s words and promises are filled with encouragement and wisdom for His people:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:9 NKJV)

Truly the good friend that He is, God also brings out the best in people. Faith in Him allows them to see the good in everything—that no matter how dark the clouds in the sky are, there is always a silver lining. He teaches them to have faith that something good will emerge from the bad:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NIV)

Friendship as a sweet responsibility
Having God as our friend, we can indeed say that “there is a friend who stays closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24 CSB). For He Himself has said to His people: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 NKJV).

 

In turn, God warns those whom He considers as friends against going back to being His enemy by befriending the world: “… anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4 NIV 2011).

Furthermore, the Lord God counsels them to love, obey, and worship Him, and to keep doing all His commandments, so He will continue showing His love to them in the form of blessings (Lev. 22:31; Exod. 23:25;
Deut. 30:16) and give them a future home in His house in heaven
(John 14:2).

Dear readers, we cordially invite you to join the Church Of Christ to have a healthy friendship with the Lord.

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