In John Chapter 15 Christ tells His disciples, and us, that we are His friends, no longer slaves, but friends. What He doesn’t say (and is never said in the Biblical text) is that God is our friend. God is our Lord, Savior, and Father, and a multitude of other things, but He is not our friend. We are His friend, but only when we do as he commands (John 15:14). The Israel Houghton song, “Friend of God” has the right of it. The chorus repeats “I am a friend of God,” and ends with the line “He calls me friend.” It is an important distinction to make. There are those that say Jesus is my best friend. This is theological heresy (yes I believe that to be so.) No where ever in the Bible does it say God is our friend. Only that we are His friends. My wife and I were discussing this idea. It’s a hard one to grasp, because I can say I am friends with Billy, but maybe Billy doesn’t say that about me. Friendship is something that we normally think goes both ways. But our God is to great for Him to be our friend right now. I am not saying we are not on friendly terms with God. Here is what I believe, and this is pure opinion and something I am still sorting through, our sin nature keeps us from having God be our friend. I believe that once we pass into the next world, at the end of time, we will then be friends of God and He our friend as well.
Amy (my wife) described it like this. God is our father. When we are young we may have a friendly relationship with our earthly father, but he isn’t our friend he is our father, he must discipline us, take care of us, make sure we grow up to be a responsible adult. However, now that I am an adult, my father and I are friends, I would argue that my Dad is one of my best friends. This is how it works with God as well. The more mature in our faith we become the closer to having God be our friend, but sin always keeps it from happening.
Much of our faith seems paradoxical. We have a Father in heaven who loves us, and gives us grace and calls us friend. But we also have a God of wrath and judgement who must condemn the world for their sin. A God who is omnipotent and we should bow before Him. The danger of becoming too ‘friendly’ with God is that we lose our reverence for Him, and this is something we cannot do, for then it becomes easy to just treat Him as a friend and not worship Him. On the flip side if we become to formal with a God that wishes to have a real relationship with us, it becomes more about religion and ritual and rules then about freedom in faith.
All this to say, we are God’s friend, celebrate that, and praise God for it, but God is not our friend, he is our Lord, Savior, Father, Shield, Fortress, Sustainer, our Banner and Victory, and so much more! Praise His name, and strive to make Him more your friend through being more and more like Christ!