On the merely human level, society tends to put a distinction of status between being a child in the family and being a servant. However, in God’s family being a willing servant carries its own status, privileges and rewards. This week we look at another description of Christians as God’s friends. The biblical truth is that one who serves God also enjoys the status of being His friend.
Jesus used the designation of servants and friends to speak of His disciples and, in so doing, connected that friendship with obedience. He voiced the divine requisite of obedience by declaring to the disciples in the upper room, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). He then elaborated: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (v. 15).
Centuries earlier, Abraham was described as God’s friend forever (2 Chron. 20:7). The New Testament picks up that description and relates it to Abraham’s obedient faith, quoting Genesis 15:6 in James 2:23: “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness,” adding, “And he was called the friend of God.” That testimony about Abraham lived on through subsequent centuries, insomuch as the Lord said through Isaiah, “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend (41:8).” What higher compliment could a forgiven sinner in any generation receive than to be called God’s friend?
Since God is the more exalted party in this friendship, we as His friends should render obedience. As God in the flesh, Christ told His followers to do what He commanded. Our friendship with God is richer and more fulfilling when we render obedience to Him.
Incidentally, the theological word for describing believers becoming God’s friends is “reconciliation,” which speaks of enemies becoming friends by putting away what stood between them, causing any enmity. That which stands between all individuals and God is sin.
Bearing our sins in His body on the cross, Christ removed that enmity, making it possible for forgiven sinners to be forevermore God’s friends.