Becoming a friend of God
Friends of God know His identity. Friends of God know His nature. Friends of God know His desires, purposes and expectation. That is where we begin. We begin with knowledge of God.
In knowing Him, the first dimension is to know His identity. In our generation there is a blurring of the lines. We live, many of us, in secular societies that have spiritual overtones. We also live in pluralistic societies with multiple religions occupying the same sacred space. For fear of displeasing anyone, we sometimes seek to define a generic divine being we can all relate to that is not the exclusive preserve of a particular group or locked into some specific form of revelation. For others, God is an impersonal force.
So when you hear ‘God’ it can mean many things. However you cannot have a relationship with an impersonal force, nor can you be friends with a person of undefined identity. A God who can be anything is not a God to whom we can relate. Many Christians have bought into that perspective and it has wreaked havoc on their relationship with God or capacity to know Him. We can relate in intimacy with a Person but not an idea, and many are now serving the idea of God rather than the Person of God. This knowing is crucial. That is why God took pains to continue to affirm His identity and speak of it to show His people who He was. How has He revealed Himself and what is His identity?
Moses asked to know God
Moses had a dramatic life changing encounter with God at the burning bush. He saw a bush burning that was not consumed. He decided to step closer and find out what was going on. And then God spoke to him audibly. He mandated him to go back to Egypt, from where he had fled in ignominy forty years before, on a rescue mission for His people. Despite the power of that encounter, Moses still had a question. ‘Who should I say sent me’? In other words, what is Your identity? And God obliged by giving His identity.
Saul said ‘who are you?’
When Saul had his famous Damascus road encounter, he asked a similar question ‘Who are you Lord?’ He was a Pharisee, a great religious leader, a man who believed he knew God, but with this encounter, he knew he needed more insight into this divine Personage. Jesus obliged him, and said He was Jesus, whom Paul was persecuting. How clear and direct. God likes to reveal Himself.
Who is your God?
The question is ‘who is your God’? I think it is a question modern evangelicals need to be asking yet again as we are in grave danger of adopting the god of the ‘Canaanites’ and making a golden calf whom we call ‘Elohim’. It is essential that we know His identity not only from a theological and intellectual perspective but also for the purposes of daily living by faith. It was recognition of the identity of Jesus that moved the apostle Paul to forsake all he once held dear, to take the gospel to the entire Roman world and to cry out with such aching desire ‘that I might know’ Him.The question is ‘who is your God’? Click To Tweet
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Most in the modern world will perhaps not assimilate the God of our Lord Jesus Christ to gods of wood and clay. However, we are already confusing His identity with that of the mental gods of our age, those hybrid and neutered deities of spirituality that promise all and require nothing. They are fashioned not by the hands of men but by their imagination and pen and paper to be as inoffensive, pleasing and generic as possible. They are Antichrists who negate the need for an exclusive Saviour who forgives sins. A weak church that seeks to flee the ire of its generation will increasingly succumb to this temptation at the expense of its spiritual vitality. But you are to be a friend of God and not an imaginer of divine possibilities. So be clear as to His identity.
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Friend of God – Abraham knew God
Abraham knew him. I often wondered how well a primitive man of idol worshipping stock could know the Lord God Elohim. And unlike David we do not have lofty descriptions of Jehovah from the pen of Abraham, nor do we have moving expressions of adoration from him. But know God he did. He distinguished between this God and the multiplicity of deities worshipped in his home area of Ur, in Mesopotamia. He did not succumb to the temptation to marry him with the gods of the Canaanites and Amorites, or the gods of Egypt and Zoar. God revealed Himself to Abraham. Who leaves home and family to head for an unknown place following an unknown deity?
The destination was unknown but the God taking Him was not. The same applies to us, if I am permitted to digress. What we are most in need of is not the finest detail about every divine direction as we voyage through life, rather it is intimate knowledge of the One steering the ship of our existence. We may not always know where we’re headed, but we must know Who is sending us and going with us, because He holds the compass and the map.
(This article is an excerpt from my new book on friendship with God ‘When God calls you friend’ Sign up to be informed when the book is out.)
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