Monday, July 28, 2008

FRIEND OF GOD

Consider the way God himself described his relationship with Abraham: “Abraham my friend” (Isaiah 41:8). Likewise the New Testament tells us, “Abraham believed God…and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).

What an incredible commendation, to be called the friend of God. Most Christians have sung the well-known hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” These biblical passages bring home that truth with power. To have the Creator of the universe call a man his friend seems beyond human comprehension. Yet it happened with Abraham. It’s a sign of this man’s great intimacy with God.

The Hebrew word that Isaiah uses for friend here signifies affection and closeness. And in the Greek, James’ word for friend means a dear, close associate. Both imply a deep, shared intimacy.

The closer we grow to Christ, the greater our desire becomes to live wholly in his presence. Moreover, we begin to see more clearly that Jesus is our only true foundation.

The Bible tells us Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). To Abraham, nothing in this life was permanent. Scripture says the world was “a strange place” to him. It was no place to put down roots. The heavenly country Abraham yearned for isn’t a literal place. Rather, it is being home with the Father. You see, the Hebrew word for this phrase, “heavenly country,” is Pater. It comes from a root word meaning Father. So, the heavenly country Abraham sought was, literally, a place with the Father.

Yet Abraham was no mystic. He was not an ascetic who put on holy airs and lived in a spiritual haze. This man lived an earthly life, heavily involved in the world’s affairs. After all, he was the owner of thousands of head of livestock. And he had enough servants to form a small militia. Abraham had to be a busy man, directing his servants and buying and selling his cattle, sheep and goats.

Yet somehow, despite his many business affairs and responsibilities, Abraham found time for intimacy with the Lord.