Thursday, November 17, 2011
How to Find a Real Friend, Part 1
The world is confusing. We are always trying to figure out how we fit, how to relate to the people around us. We feel sometimes like Diogenes, wandering around with a lamp trying to find an honest man, someone we can trust. "Who am I?", we wonder. "Who are you?"
Diogenes, as far as anyone knows, never found his honest man and, consequently, found himself very much alone. We, too, want trustworthy companions but, like Diogenes, find our fellow humans wanting.
Diogenes failed to consider God. When we reach for God, we find everything men lack. Savior, Brother, Friend, Almighty. He is all these and more. But then, we encounter another puzzle.
God made us. He laid down our world and the laws that govern both it and us. We exist only at His pleasure. How can I possibly achieve friendship with the One who rules?
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.--John 15:14-15
Only God offers faithful friendship and, in order to enjoy it, He says that I must first obey Him. This does not sound like friendship to me. Friends share, not obey, but I can only share so much with a holy God. On a small scale, it's like trying to maintain a friendship with Alexander the Great. The gulf between us is just too wide.
Obedience to God, however, puts the relationship between us into proper perspective. While nothing can level the playing field, obedience opens the door to Him. When I obey eagerly out of love, He can treat me like a daughter and He can share not only knowledge, but His created heavens and earth as an inheritance. When I serve and consider myself bound to Him, I am tied to Him not by ownership, but by affection. Thus is His friendship not the precursor, but the byproduct of His commanded obedience. I cannot earn His friendship, but I can obey my way to it.
First, I believe. Then I obey. Later, I trust. I obey when it is hard because God has shared His truth. I trust when everything else fails because God has showed His vision. I serve when rewards fail because service to God's truth sanctifies. I persevere when men fail because friendship forged with God lasts forever.
Diogenes looked in the wrong place.