Deuteronomy 31:8 says “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will remain— so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. This is My command to you: Love one another”
I love the wonderful assurances found in scripture concerning God being for us and with us. Romans 8:31 is probably one of the most quoted verses on this topic. “If God is for us, who is against us? The Apostle Paul shared this truth with the young Roman church of Believers. It was something that the children of Israel often took for granted; That God was their God and He was both for his children and with them. This fact was made evident by simply looking at their national history.
The Jewish people, those of the household of Israel, would have taken this concept of God being with them as their birthright and identity. Generation after generation shared in this concept, and it was part of their national identity and heritage as a people; they were “God’s chosen people.” They knew Deuteronomy 31:8 which said; “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Yet even with this history, Jesus took this concept one more step. In the gospel of John, we see Jesus sharing his last words of instruction with his disciples during the Last Supper. Jesus took this topic of “God’s chosen people” to the final level of relationship by calling his disciples not just servants, but his friends.
Friendship with God is something that was far beyond their paradigm of the Creator-creation relational dynamic. The accepted understanding of God was that He was “High and lifted up,” one that was to be exalted, never to be understood in a common and intimate description of friend or friendship. These kinds of words would never be used to describe the God-man relationship, maybe servant, slave, or worker, but definitely not friends.
I have a couple of friends that I can truly say are “lifelong” friends. They are friendships that were developed when we were young. They have stood the test of time. I’m sure that you also have these kinds of friendships. Jesus saw fit to use his very last moments with his disciples to redefine for all generations the God-man relationship to a very intimate level of friendship. While the holiness and majesty of God are both important qualities to hold on to in my relationship with God, I must keep this friendship relationship even closer as it mirrors God’s original design of Eden and His relationship with Adam.
If you want to take a deeper dive, I encourage you to ponder this passage found in John 15 and engage in the practice of the early church called Lectio Divina – Divine reading. This was a contemplative practice of reading a passage of scripture four times, each time with a different focus: Lectio (which is a plain reading), Meditatio (a meditative reading), Oratio (a prayerful reading), and Comtemplatio (a restful reading).
Maybe, by taking a little bit more time on this passage, our divine friendship might be understood for its incredible richness and beauty.
God bless you this week…dear friend of God.