Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Friendship with God

In her book Encountering the Depths, Mother Mary Clare SLG (1906-1988), wrote: “To stand before the living God, what an adventure; to stand face to face before the living God, not in a vague way in a place we call heaven, but in the here and now of our moment to moment living, by, with and in Christ, as we are made part of his prayer and his offering through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

God loves us, and his purpose is to draw us into an ever-deepening friendship with himself. Do you remember that Abraham is said to have been God’s “friend” (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). Abraham was far from perfect, but he loved God, believed his promises, and walked in his way. He is called the “father of all who believe” (Romans 4:11), and throughout the New Testament his trusting response to God is held up as an example for us.

In John 15:13-15, Jesus says to his followers, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

So, friendship is bound up with sacrificial love.

The religious leaders who were upset with Jesus thought it a clever insult to call him the “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). I'm sure that Jesus wore that badge with honour! In the Gospel narratives it is obvious that, far from just “doing his job,” Jesus enjoyed being with these friends of his. The genuineness and mutuality of real friendship was the context in which so many were able to receive from him love, hope, healing and new beginnings. It’s the same today, which is why church communities and individuals who are truly close to Jesus “befriend” those who are most vulnerable and pushed to the margins of our society.

Friendship is the way of communication and sharing. It involves what is often called a “posture of heart,” an open attitude, toward the other person. In our friendship with God this posture of heart includes recognition of our Father’s greatness, his goodness, his power, his love and his mercy. It also includes the response of our heart, the way we speak with him, our use of gestures to express what is in our hearts, and our determination to do what he asks of us. In prayer we speak, we think, and we also listen in the silence. Sometimes we are able just to “be.”

Friendship with God is a “this-worldly” experience, while at the same time it transcends space and time, for it is an entering into the inner life of God, allowing the Holy Spirit to make us part of Jesus’ eternal self-offering of love to the Father. (More next time)


Anonymous said...

How do we hold to this friendship, making Jesus the central focal point of our lives?
As it seems Jesus is the only way we can change and heal ourselves and perhaps the world as well.
As I have spent 57years on this earth and only now feel that I am at the beginning or dawn of new understanding of the Lord's way through my puny existence.

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