Best Friend Ever – Part 3

A common story line in romantic comedies involves two people who dislike each other on their first meeting — and reinforce that opinion in subsequent interactions — but eventually realize their understanding was inaccurate or incomplete and fall in love. This can happen in friendships as well. First impressions can provide an incomplete picture. Sometimes we must be willing to put our initial reactions aside and look deeper to see the value in pursuing a friendship.

The same can be true in our friendship with God. A distorted view of Him can keep us from pursuing a relationship at all or keep us from deepening that relationship. Here are four ways our view of God can be distorted:

We may think God cannot be a real friend. We may doubt His existence or the possibility of being friends with a spirit. We trust our emotions, which cannot feel Him. We put more faith in people because they seem more present. We may test Him by praying, “If I am not alone, You need to show Yourself to me,” rather than seeking Him by asking, “Lord, I feel alone, help me believe You are with me”. But He is real and Scripture boldly states God is visible to everyone who is willing to look for Him.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

Far more life seeks out a friendship with God.

We may believe God is distant or disinterested. Our closest friends are usually people we have regular interaction with, those who share both the big moments of life and the dailyness. Because we cannot see God’s body with our eyes, hear His voice with our ears, or touch Him with our hands, it is easy for us to think of Him being far away and detached. It is tempting to test Him, asking Him to prove His presence, interest, and connection. Misinterpreted Bible verses can reinforce our belief that God is distant or disinterested. Consider this verse:

But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3, NASB)

While it is easy to interpret this as describing God as distant and disinterested, reading other parts of the psalm offers a different perspective:

Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth…
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.
The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us. (Psalm 115:1, 11-12a, NASB)

Far more life follows the admonition to handle the Word carefully (2 Timothy 2:15) to develop sharp spiritual vision and grow a friendship with God.

We may think God is like Santa Claus. Many religions place high value on works and teach that doing good earns God’s approval. That is how Santa Claus operates, not God. Santa watches to see if kids are good or bad then weighs their actions to determine if they get coal or gifts in their stockings. If you were nervous on Christmas Eve as a child, wondering how Santa would judge you, you can rest assured: you never have to wonder about where you stand with God. He knows we are incapable of being good without His help (Romans 3:12, 6:11-12). He paid the penalty for our sin and invited us into a relationship that can never be jeopardized, no matter what we do (Romans 8:38-39). Far more life knows God is not weighing our good works (like Santa Claus) and confidently pursues a friendship with Him.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:13, NIV)

We may think of God as a cosmic vending machine. This distortion depicts an impersonal God who spits out blessings in proportion to the amount of good we do. It believes logging enough prayer time and believing hard enough leads to answered prayers. It thinks going to church often enough or making a big enough donation, guarantees a life free from trouble. It embraces the idea that if we make God look good, He will give us wealth and success. But this is not how God works!

Paul – also known as Saul – was an influential Jewish man while persecuting and executing God’s people (Acts 9:1-2, 13-14). After encountering Christ and dedicating his life to sharing the truth of Christ with others, Paul was rejected, beaten, and imprisoned (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). His good works did not lead to material blessing. But Paul realized the spiritual blessing of knowing God was better:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:7-8).

Far more life desires to love and serve God because of who He is, not because of how it might benefit us.

How do we overcome distortions in our view of God? By doing the work necessary to see God clearly and understand who He truly is. This happens when we:

  • Invest time learning about His character and His attitude toward us.
  • Welcome Him into every aspect of our life so we can experience Him in action.
  • Strive to become like Him in what we think, do, and say.
  • Study areas of His Word that are hard until we understand them.
  • Obey His instructions.
  • Fight through the obstacles that hinder us from making Him our best friend.

Sisters,
Was your first impression of God good or bad?
How has your understanding of Him been distorted?
Which action item will help you gain clear vision and grow your friendship with Him?
Thank God for being available as a best friend and for offering you far more life!
-Shari


Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

Best Friend Ever – Part 1

Those were the best days of my life. That’s when God’s friendship blessed my house. (Job 29:4, NIRV)

Have you ever met someone and thought, “That person seems great! I want to get to know them better”? Maybe you have that opportunity, maybe you do not. But you notice them and are drawn to them.

Do you remember feeling that interest and attraction toward God? Maybe as a young girl you could not wait to learn more Bible stories. Or perhaps during a challenging time, you were eager to gain His wisdom and perspective. Maybe your attraction to Him is brand new! Whenever it started, something about God caught your attention and drew you. You want to know more about Him. You want to know HIM.

As we get to know people, we find a mixture of good and bad. Traits we love, and habits or attitudes we do not. As the early infatuation fades, we either build a relationship or we drift apart. We go through a similar process as we get to know God. While He does not have any bad habits or attitudes, we do not always understand what He does or why. That can cause us to stop pursuing Him. But when we see God clearly, we make Him our best friend; this is the ultimate experience of far more life!

If God is not your best friend, do not feel ashamed. Shame is Satan’s tool to keep us away from God by tempting us to focus on our weaknesses and sin. When you see God clearly, you will naturally grow your friendship with Him. You will find far more life, just as Abraham did:

Abraham put his trust in God and he became right with God.” He was called the friend of God. (James 2:23, NLV)

Today I want to share four categories of friendships: those that have not started yet; those that are growing; those that are stagnant; and those that are dying.

The initial interest described above is typical for a friendship that has not started yet. You have learned about each other or been introduced, but you have not started building a relationship. This happens with God, too. We can learn about God, even attend church and pray, but we do not have a friendship with Him until we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.” (John 14:6-7, NIV)

Our friendship with God starts when we put our trust in Jesus and believe what He says. This is the first step toward making God your best friend.

The second category, a growing friendship, has mutual interests and shared experiences. You enjoy spending time together and are learning about each other. You both look forward to deepening the existing connections and making memories. Growing relationships are usually positive, although some are unhealthy.

We can have a growing friendship with God, too, as we learn about His character, His view of us, and His plan for our lives.

[Jesus said] I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15, NASB)

A stagnant friendship can be comfortable; you know what to expect and it is easy to be together. Or it can feel like a rut: rather than making new connections or sharing meaningful experiences, you are bored. Whether comfortable or in a rut, you probably are not putting much effort into this relationship…and you are okay with that. It could grow or die in the future.

Your friendship with God can be stagnant, too. Maybe you attend church and small group because it is the “right thing” to do. Maybe you pray before meals or when a serious need arises. But you do not share your heart with God on a regular basis. You do not read His word to hear from Him or learn more about Him. You do not feel His peace and joy in your heart as you go about your day. You are His friend, but You are not sharing your life with Him. The Bible admonishes us:

But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first…Turn from your sins and do what you did at first. (Revelation 2:4-5, GNT)

A dying friendship is disconnected. You are each pursuing other people or interests. Maybe there is negativity or an unresolved hurt between you. Or maybe one or both of you are simply focused on growing other friendships. Although your friendships with people can die, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you can rest assured that your relationship with God will never die!

Nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39, NIV)

What a relief! Even if you are in a stagnant place with God – no matter how long you have been there or how disconnected you feel – He still loves you! He is committed to His children and is waiting patiently for you to turn back to Him. He will never leave you or turn away from You. He will gladly resume a growing friendship anytime.

In a future post we will look at distorted views of God that cloud our vision and diminish our desire for a friendship with Him. Far more life — the best friend ever — is waiting!

Sisters,
What drew you to God?
Is God your best friend? If not, what about Him or you keeps you apart?
Which category best describes your friendship with God: not started yet, growing, or stagnant?
Thank God for the times you have experienced far more life. And ask Him to grow your desire for more of them!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso