Barbara's Random Thoughts

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friend of God

And now I sing you songs of praise
But your greatness is beyond me
I know I cannot comprehend
How you, Ancient of Days
Stoop yourself to call me
To be your son
To be your friend
--Caedmon's Call

I was listening to this on the way to work yesterday, and it got me thinking about what it means to be the friend of God. The idea of being God's child is one thing. I can get my head around that--God as my father, me as His child. But--friend?

I started thinking about what friendship is, in my mind. A friend is someone to go through things with, to figure things out with, to listen and sympathize and understand. And so many more things…but what I'm getting at (eventually) is that to me, friendship seems to suggest a reciprocal, equal relationship. In one sense, a friend is a peer—someone who's on my same level, someone who I struggle through things with--meaning that sometimes they struggle, too. So what does it mean to think of God as a friend?

Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). Enoch is spoken of as one who walked with God. God spoke to Moses "face to face, as a man speaks with his friend" (Ex. 33:11).

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?
--2 Chronicles 20:6-7

Here God is addressed as sovereign in the heavens, ruler over the nations, powerful and mighty, and then side by side with that is the almost casual mention of "Abraham Your friend." God is infinitely powerful but incredibly personal at the same time.

I guess it's difficult for me to imagine God stooping so low as to put Himself on my level and call me His friend. But isn't that what the incarnation is all about?

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

I'm wary of thinking of God in such a way that I lose sight of His sovereignty in an attempt to bring Him down to my level. God isn't my buddy. He's almighty. He's infinitely more powerful and wise than I can imagine.

Lord, I often talk about Your love and mercy
How it seems to me Your goodness has no end
It frightens me to think that I could take You for granted
Though You're closer than a brother
You're more than just a friend
--Point of Grace

All of this thinking leads me to this: there is no way human language can adequately express who God is. Any description--ruler, Father, friend--fails to encompass all that He is. Though these ways of talking about God can help me understand aspects of who He is, they aren't all He is. He is so much more than our minds can comprehend or express through our limited words, metaphors, and figures of speech.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
though stretched from sky to sky.
--F. M. Lehmen
| posted by Barbara | 5:53 PM