There are two types of spiritual friendship, friendship with God and friendship with man. The first is our development of a friendship with God based on the good news of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension. In those defining acts Jesus completes all our failures, mends all our faults, and delivers us to God. Never forget that the Gospel ends in the ascension to the throne of God, not in the resurrection. The purpose of all the other acts was to bring us back to God, to set us in new relation to the creator, one infinitely better than the situation that Adam found himself in. While Adam was good and created in a good relationship to God, Jesus in perfection becomes glorified, a state from which there can be no fall, and we by faith are joined to perfection, not mere goodness as in the original state. We find ourselves, because of the incredible favor procured for us in the Gospel, at the throne of the Father without fear and shame, completely at home (in fact it is our true home) in the heavenly places. Now, as Father and son, or Father and daughter, we set out together to get to know one another and to engage one another in day to day life. Which brings us to ask, “What is the purpose of such a relationship?” Why does God insist that we engage Him personally?
Engaging God as a person is the thing I find that is most neglected in modern faith. Since the enlightenment, a movement that taught us scientific principles of analysis, I find that most men, good Christian men, treat God as an object to be studied rather than a person to be known. We are forever developing doctrinal positions about God, debating about Him and writing books about Him, yet so few actually figure out that God is not an amoeba on the slide under their microscope. Getting His shape is impossible and knowing Him as one knows science or history is an impossibility. God cannot be known as a book can be known. Even the Scriptures themselves only give us what we need to know about God, they are sufficient for all of our life and all of our faith but they do not in any way shape form or fashion contain the specifications on God, nor do they purport to. The Scriptures reveal to us the keys to relationship, Jesus, His Gospel, and the sending of His Holy Spirit. The Scriptures call us to relationship with a being, not a cold knowledge of certain facts.
So, how does one develop a spiritual friendship with God? Well just as God is a being that is communicative so He has created you a being that is communicative as well. Therefore conversation, the ability to form words and ideas, to declare feelings and intent, is where we are to begin. Not just conversation, but frank conversation. God, as a being, is big enough to handle all your doubts and your fears. He is a God that can handle your frankness. Don’t beat around the bush, say what you really feel and think, if you doubt tell Him, admit it, if your afraid, tell Him, it’s ok, He can deal with all your fears and insecurities. But put a voice to them, communicate with Him. Tell Him your spiritual dreams, admit to Him your spiritual failures. Tell Him what you aspire to be, what you feel deep down where nobody else would dare venture. Unveil your soul to Him, don’t hold anything back.
Why do I tell you this? Because all relationship is based on trust, that’s right, faith. The purity of your faith in the person can be detected in the amount of risk that you are willing to take with them. For instance, in our life here on earth we have friends, but not all friends are equal. There are aquaintances with which we make small talk, and then there are long time friends to whom we can bare our souls. The level of friendship is always based on the level of faith we have in them, always. Once a close friend betrays our trust, or our faith in them, the level of fellowship we have with them changes to suit their faithfulness to us. Friendship is always a faith-based endeavor, whether with men or with God.
What then happens when a person comes to God completely unveiled, trusting Him with all that they are, warts and all so to speak? Well, listen to what the Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 3:18,
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The simple answer is, transformation of our entire being. God knows that if you’ll trust Him, if you’ll be honest with Him about yourself, in this simple act of faith, God unveils himself to you. And when you sit unveiled, staring at the glory of God, the Holy Spirit alters you, reshapes you according to the image that you behold. The result of spiritual friendship is personal transformation or what is commonly known as sanctification in Christian circles. God wants to transform you through the vehicle of relationship.
Interestingly, the level of openness and honesty you have with God bleeds into your personal relationships as well. Just as no man can love God and hate his brother, so no man unveiled before God can hide from his brother in Christ either. And that will be the subject of the next article, spiritual friendship with other disciples of Christ.