“My friend Abraham.” (That’s one.)
Who said that?
God did (Isa 41:8).
Can there be a greater testimonial for a human being? Abraham responded by faith and wholeheartedly to God’s offer of friendship. Twenty-five years had passed between the promise of an only beloved son and its actual fulfillment. Then God says, “Sacrifice him.” This friend of God fully trusted in God’s purpose and power to bring Isaac back to him.
Let’s learn from Charles Spurgeon’s insight into the making of Abraham’s character and friendship quotient: “Abraham’s desire for God’s glory was uppermost at all times. He did not do what others would have done, because he feared the Lord. I think that Abraham came out grandly when he had pursued the kings who had plundered the cities of the plain. He overcame them and recovered all their spoils. When Melchizedek met him as the priest of the most high God, Abraham at once gave him tithes of all; but when the king of Sodom proposed that Abraham should keep all salvage that he had taken, and only restore to him the persons who had been captured, it was grand of Abraham not to touch a particle of the prey, but to say, ‘I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet; I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.’ He did not want that a petty princeling, or indeed anybody, should boast of enriching Abraham: he trusted solely in his God, and though he had a perfect right to have taken the spoils of war which were his by capture, yet he would not touch them lest the name of his God should be in the least dishonoured.”
Look at the ingredients that went into this “recipe”: desire for God’s glory; fear of the Lord; worshipful with his tithes; exclusive trust in God; honouring the name of God. Recall the incident of the sudden appearance of the three men (Gen 18:2) at noon time while Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent. Abraham recognised this was a divine visitation. Three times the word “ran” was used to describe how he treasured the visitors (verses 2, 6 and 7). He literally raced to extend hospitality. Nothing but the best was offered, and Abraham personally waited on them as they ate. He even accompanied them part of the way as they headed on their mission to Sodom.
Who else was referred to as a “friend of God''? Yes, Moses comes to mind. (That’s two.) “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (Ex 33:11 NIV)
Moses’ closeness to God is best described by the idiomatic expression “face to face”. There was no need for an intermediary or “middleman”. The communion and communication were direct, yet it is doubtful Moses saw God’s face. GotQuestions explains: “In verses 20 and 23, face and back are in reference to God’s ‘glory’ and ‘goodness’ (verses 18–19). Since God is spirit, and since glory and goodness are both intangibles, we can take face and back to signify varying ‘degrees’ of glory. God’s hand (verse 22) is an obvious reference to God’s ‘protection’.”
Then there was Lazarus whom Jesus referred to as “our friend”. (That’s three.) “After he had said this, he went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’” (John 11:11 NIV) We may consider Abraham and Moses formidable models to imitate, but Lazarus easier to relate to. Together with his sisters Mary and Martha, he made their home in Bethany a welcome oasis of hospitality and teaching. We can be a friend of God in the ordinariness of daily life.
Imagine God calling you a friend, too. That’s the relationship God wants with us – solid friendship… though I suspect many of us prefer God in a benefactor-beneficiary connection. He gives, we get.
Imagine God calling you a friend, too. That’s the relationship God wants with us – solid friendship… though I suspect many of us prefer God in a benefactor-beneficiary connection. He gives, we get. Grateful recipients, yes, but still shy of wholeheartedly entering into such an amazing relationship. It’s for real, as our Lord Jesus declared: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (Jn 15:14,15 NIV)
Serve wholeheartedly - but as a privileged friend. That’s the truly abundant life.
Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of Impact magazine.
VOL. 47 NO. 1 of IMPACT Magazine
THE GIFT OF COVID-19... Marital conflicts can be positive. By Lai Mun Loon
THE GREATEST CHALLENGE... The health of the church depends on this. By Jenni Huan
YOU'VE GOT A FRENEMY IN ME... Is it right to off-load bad friendships? By Peter Teagle
MY BEST FRIEND IS MY REPLIKA? Exploring the deep void in modern relationships.
By Mary Yeo-Carpenter
APPS PARENTS SHOULD KNOW
WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD
~ The Impact Panel responds ~
GOING FULL-CIRCLE IN OUTREACH by Tan See Seng
COACHED FOR CHRIST by Samantha Chin