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Monday, April 18, 2005

Friend of God...

I was reading my new issue of Rev. today. I love the magazine. I generally read it from cover to cover (and enjoy it). Today I read editor Paul Allen's From Rev to Rev article. In it he says something that tripped me up a bit:

Here at Group Publishing we talk a lot about The One Thing - growing in out relationship with Jesus. I'm reminded - again - that me relationship with God is not about God doing things with me and me doing things for God. It's first about hanging out together, being friends with God.

While I agree that at its core Christianity it not a "give-and-take" relationship. I do not do to gain God's favor. In reality, there in nothing I can do to gain God's favor. It is unmerited. God's favor is gained through Jesus. That's why they call it grace.

However, I sort of take issue with the statement, "It's first about hanging out together, being friends with God." I struggle with this statement because it seems a little cavalier. Maybe it's just me - I realize that. But Abraham was the only person called friend of God.

More often, we are called servants, children, heirs, co-heirs with Christ, and bride. The disciples were called friends. But that doesn't seem to be the norm.

Maybe I'm just being too uptight. I know the spirit in which the statement was written was probably meant to focus on the relational aspect of Christianity - that we can have a real and true relationship with God. I understand that I could even call my quiet time, "hang time" with God.

Maybe I'm so caught up in the holiness of God that I'm missing the day-to-day tender mercies of His love.

Again, I'm willing to admit it's my hang-up. I guess as I write, I realize that the other missing part is really about service. Yes, there is a time to be Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus. I miss that too often. But there is also a time to work... to serve... to do. There is a time to be a Martha. In Luke, Jesus indicates only that Martha's timing is bad, not the activity. In fact, he doesn't call it bad at all - only that Mary's choice was "better."

And in John 14, one of the major themes of the passage is "love = obedience." If you love God, you will do things for him (obey). Even Ephesians 2:8-10 indicates that while we cannot do anything to earn our salvation, once we are saved it's all about doing things (good works).

So I guess here at the end what I'm saying is this: hang out with God... strive even to be named "friend" by Him. But understand that the result of "hanging out with your friend" should be unfettered obedience to Him. And do not make the mistake of attributing "buddy" qualities to God - he is far more than that. He is the holy Creator of the universe, who by His sacrifice chooses to enter into relationship with us. We should not take that sacrifice lightly.

PS. Why choose to write about this? I am seeing a trend in 21st century, post-modern, emerging Christianity that focuses on the "friend" aspect of God. I see things written and hear people say things like, "You deserve God's love - you're good enough for it." That just simply isn't true and it isn't orthodox. We deserve hell. We are not good enough - that's why Jesus came. Apart from God, all our deeds are as filthy rags.

As an artist I understand the yearning for closeness to God. I have it. And I believe God wants us to draw near to him. I believe that is biblical. However, there seems to be an elevation of an individual's derservedness that seems to be contradictory to Scripture. That is why I always feel a little uneasy when I hear our relationship with God described only in terms of "hanging out together" with God. If that is where we stop, I thin we have missed the boat on understand in the nature of salvation, sanctification, and service.

Here endeth the rant.

///////////////

Here are those passages listed above...

James 2:23
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.

Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."


John 14:15-31

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.



Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1 Comments:

Anonymous annette said...

AMEN! I heard a song last night on the radio, which I caught myself talking back to. The artist was singing "God is my friend and I am his..." The song was practically all based on our personal friendship with God. I was struggling with the words because i could not bring to mind anywhere in the Bible where it said God was our friend. I am glad i am not alone in this line of thinking. It is scary to think how many people will listen or read a simple concept and yet be so far off what God's word really has to say.

April 20, 2005 1:03 PM

 

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