Duration: 365 days
Friendship With God
Your ability to experience and enjoy the fullness of human community is directly linked to the quality of your community with God. Do you know the truth we never confess to? We all walk around wishing someone was thinking about us all the time—wishing that someone would move toward us with love all the time, be there for us all the time. We wish we were the center of someone’s world. We put pressure on friendships that they weren’t meant to bear. We raise the expectations higher and higher and people begin staying away.
Enter God. God says, “I have love of another kind. I have a lavish, uncontaminated, focused affection for you. I am thinking about you all the time. I am moving toward you with love all the time. I will be there for you all the time.” When you open your heart up to the love of God through Christ, that love becomes the bedrock foundation out of which you move in your human relationships. If your relationship with God is maturing, it gives you the inner security to take risks in human relationships. If a risk doesn’t work out, you have not lost everything. You are not going to die. You have God’s friendship in your life. From that rich point of security and peace you can move more freely in your relational world. You will grow into a more consistently loving person. You will develop deep community because you won’t need it in the ultimate sense. You won’t press for it in unhealthy ways or make demands that it can’t deliver. You’ll be positioned to experience it as a gift. “This is a friendship.” Let’s be clear about it, move toward it, persevere in it. Let’s offer good gifts of community to one another.
In Scripture we’re told that Abraham, the great hero of faith, was given an amazing title. God called him “my friend” (Isaiah 41:8). Even more amazing, Jesus told his followers that he no longer called them his servants but rather his friends (John 15:15). His enemies gave Jesus the title “friend of . . . ‘sinners’” (Matthew 11:19), intending it as an insult. Instead, he wore it as a badge of honor. Jesus not only wants to be your Savior, Teacher, and Lord, he longs to be your friend. Devote this week to cultivating a deeper friendship with Jesus. Consciously seek his companionship. Enjoy his presence. Share your life, thoughts, and activities with him as true friends do together.
Here are some ideas:
• When you wake up, remember that Jesus is present with you as a friend. You are already on his mind. Invite him to spend the day with you.
• Throughout the day, whenever you are tempted, anxious, or discouraged, take that emotion as a cue to remind you that you are not alone. Take a moment to talk to Jesus about your concern, as one friend would speak to another.
• At some point during the day, take time out to do something you love to do. It may be taking a walk, listening to music, riding a motorcycle, or pursuing a hobby. Invite Jesus to be a part of this activity. Don’t strain yourself to pray or to make the time be “spiritual.” Simply be aware that he is with you as your friend. Speak to him as it feels natural to do so.
• When something good happens—even if it seems small or insignificant—express your gratitude or joy to Jesus. Take a moment to reflect that he shares your joy with you, as any good friend does.
• When someone else’s need interrupts your day, seize it as an opportunity to serve Jesus as you would do a favor for a good friend.
Keep track of how this exercise goes. How hard is it for you to relate to Jesus as a trusted friend? What difference does it make in your life as you stretch yourself to experience him in that way?
When the servant arrived in the town of Nahor, a young woman named Rebekah greeted him and offered to get the servant a drink. When he had finished drinking, Rebekah said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.” We are told she “quickly” emptied her jar into the trough and “ran” back to the well to draw more water. It all sounds fairly unremarkable, until you read between the lines: One gallon of water weighs eight pounds; a thirsty camel can drink up to thirty gallons of water; and there were ten camels. Do the math. Rebekah is running to the well. This girl is drawing three hundred gallons of water for a stranger. She does all that could be reasonably expected of her and then some. This was the pivotal moment of her life. Because of her act of service, Rebekah became the wife of Isaac and went on the adventure of a lifetime, becoming part of sacred history. To this day, her name is remembered and revered by people of faith. But Rebekah did not know all this was at stake. She did not offer to draw three hundred gallons of water because she knew what the reward could be. It was simply an expression of her heart.
When we discover the gifts God has given us and the passions that engage us, and we put them to work in the service of values we deeply believe in — in conscious dependence on God — then we are working in the Spirit. We are the ones who make our work significant — not the other way around.
© 2014 by Zondervan. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Visit JohnOrtberg.com for more about John Ortberg’s work and ministry.