Imagine that you are a surfer and that you are surfing routinely in the ocean with some friends. Now imagine that all of a sudden a Great White Shark appears out of nowhere and begins to attack you. Try to imagine yourself in the water while a shark bites at your surfboard. The only protection that you have is the surfboard, or so you think. Now imagine that all of a sudden you see your friend feverishly swimming towards you as a Great White Shark is attacking you. Time seems to stand still as the shark bites at your surfboard and your friend is swimming towards you to help you. You lock eyes with your friend between the pouncing by the shark. What can he do? The only protection that you think you have is your surfboard. Hope would soon be lost but you see your friend frantically swimming towards you whereas everyone else has swam away. For some reason, hope remains.
You can feel the pain as you imagine the shark biting into your flesh. You can feel the pain of its teeth slicing through your body as the blood spills in the water. Your friend still approaches. As if by some miracle you are rescued from the jaws of death that gloomed over you in the form of a Great White Shark. Your friend helps you get away from the shark and you do not feel the piercing pain of its teeth because your imagination did not manifest. Instead you feel the piercing psychological effects of that experience. You are rescued and that is all that matters. You have been delivered from certain death by the assistance of a friend that would not leave you even though there was very little hope.
Now what do you do? You would almost be willing to give your life for that friend that risked his or her life for you. You would give him or her all of the riches in the world if you could because he or she risked their life to save you from certain death. Try to fathom the event here. Your friend sacrificed his or her safety and well being in addition to submitting to the same danger that you faced in order to rescue you. What if you had a friend like that?
A friend like that is priceless. A friend like that is rare. What would you give for a friend that would risk his or her life to save you from impending danger and from certain death?
A True Friend
What is a true friend? A true friend is someone that would stay with you no matter what. A true friend is a person that would fight an army by your side and would support you when all others are against you. A true friend is also that person that would tell you when you are acting like an idiot and inform you of your stupid foolish actions. A friend would be real with you—no sugar coating.
A friend would defend you when you are not present. A friend would help you when you are down and out. A friend would not abandon you if at all possible. A friend would feel your pain and experience your joy. This type of friendship is not defined by blood or by compatibility. A natural bond between two people defines it. Jesus Christ is a true friend and we are also friends of Christ according to the friendship glue that Christ gives us, which we will discuss in a few moments.
The Conditions of Friendship
Well, all Christians have a true friend whether you know it or not. His name is Jesus Christ and he is the best friend that you will ever have. Consider what the Bible says about this friendship.
John 15:13 through John 15:15 (KJV) Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
This verse implies at least two things.
- We are friends of Jesus Christ according to the given condition
- Christ is our friend.
Like the friend in the shark story, Jesus Christ has come to rescue us. Jesus Christ considers us to be his friends if we do what he says. He is also our friend in that he gave his own life to save us. The word "salvation" means to be rescued (snatched) from impending danger. Jesus has rescued us from hell (total separation from God for all eternity).
The condition of our friendship to Christ is that we do what he says (keep his commandments). However, that is our duty anyway, which means that God wants us to be friends of Christ and therefore friends to himself. Do you see the implications of what Jesus said? It is easy to see that Jesus is our friend. It is easy to grasp the idea that the creator of the universe is our friend. However, it is more difficult to comprehend that fact that the creator of all things wants us to be his friend. Specks of dust that walk around on the earth in this enormous solar system and galaxy are desired to be friends of God. Can you possibly grasp the implications of that?
To be friends of Christ means that we have to do what he says, which is beneficial to our well being anyway. The Bible declares:
Matthew 4:4 (KJV) But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
We see here that we need the word of God to live anyway. So it is quite interesting that the very thing that would authenticate us as friends of Christ, and therefore God, is the very thing that we need for life. It is almost as if God was saying that those who live with him are his friends. Those that have the life of God are his friends. Another perplexing thing is that God has shown himself to be our friends while we weren’t even thinking about him. Consider the following scripture.
Romans 5:8 (KJV) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Would you die for an enemy? Would you die for someone that disregarded you and didn’t care about you one bit? Well Jesus Christ did just that. Jesus Christ gave his life for us while we were living in sin with no regard for righteousness. He provided what we needed to be rescued from the jaws of death, which is a life of sin (see Romans 6:23). The wages of sin is death but Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may live. Our friend Jesus Christ gave his life so that we could be his friends, which implies that we would have the life of God and therefore become born again (saved).
Our Relationship With Christ
We must realize that Jesus Christ was our friend long before we cared about him or his words. He cared about us long before we cared about him or his kingdom. Consider the following scripture.
John 10:11 through John 10:13 (NIV) "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Jesus is the good shepherd. He will fight for his sheep, which we are. We are never alone and therefore he will never abandon us. We have the confidence of knowing that Jesus Christ will never forsake us no matter what obstacles we face
There are people that may say that they are your friends. However, true friendship is usually not determined until it is tested. What happened to your professed friends when your back was against the wall and anyone associated with you may face danger? What happens to your professed friends when you have no place to go and taking you in would introduce a major inconvenience to them? Most will flee from you to avoid the responsibility (per the friendship code) to help you even to their own inconvenience. Of course there is a certain point when we can no longer offer assistance but that doesn’t mean that we leave those we call our friends stranded.
Jesus Christ will never leave you. When the smoke clears and you find that your friends stuck by your side then you may feel emotions rise and an extreme sense of gratitude and love. After all, this guy or gal didn’t leave you when all hope was lost and staying with you would mean possible pain (in the sense of inconvenience). Your professed friend has now proven himself or herself to be a true friend.
Jesus Christ has already proven himself to be our friend. He has already suffered at the hands of religious men and he gave his life for us. The Bible calls us joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), Children of God (Romans 8:16), and friends if we do what Jesus says.
Consequences of Friendship
Ok, the Bible says that we are friends of Christ if we do what he says. We have already showen that it is to our benefit to do what Christ says since he only looks out for our best interest as he demonstrated by giving his life on the cross. What are the consequences of doing what Jesus says? What are the consequences of being a friend to Christ?
You may not have realized this but you have given your life up when you became born again. Consider the following scripture.
Matthew 16:25 (KJV) For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
1 Corinthians 7:23 (KJV) Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
Well what do you know? We belong to God. Now if we do what he says by adhering to the words of Christ, then we are his friends (and his disciples—John 831-32). What does it mean to be a friend of Christ? What does it mean, therefore, to be a friend of God?
Foremost we must realize that we are never alone. God will always be with us. He is always there to deliver us from danger and he is always there to fulfill our lives. Many would say that the benefits of being a child of God (or friend of God) is that we could be prosperous. These are the teachings of foolish men that do not understand or refuse to promote true Christianity. True Christianity is not about riches here on the earth in the form of hefty bank accounts or an abundance of possesions. Consider the following verse as I sidestep a moment.
Matthew 6:19 through Matthew 6:21 (KJV) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Jesus warns us about placing things of this earth as our treasures. This means that temporal things become most important to us. Jesus admonishes us that the true treasure is heavenly and not carnal in nature. True fulfillment comes not as a result of accumulating wealth and possessions on earth; rather it comes by accumulating great treasures in heaven.
God will take care of his friends—his children. In Matthew Chapter six, Jesus says that we have no need to worry about our daily needs. Our heavenly Father will supply of our needs. Our God will prosperous according to his will. This prosperity is not necessarily money or possessions. For example, a prosperous missionary is an effective missionary that reaches thousands with the word of God. A prosperous doctor is one that helps many people medically. Do you see? People have degraded the true relationship with God to a "what’s in it for me" mentality.
We are friends of Christ if we do what he says. We are friends of Christ if we have the life of God within us (See John 6:63). Our love for God is based on who he is and how he has proven his love to us. It is not, nor should it be, based on what he can do for us. The consequence of being a friend of Christ is that we will never be alone. Just the thought of having the creator of the universe with us at all times is enough to make one’s knees weak.
Being a True Friend
Would you use the one that holds you as a friend for your own gain? Would you take advantage of a friend? God loves us. John 3:16 basically tells us that God demonstrated his love for us by giving his only begotten son so that we may have life. Why then would we use God for our own gain? Why would we treat God as if he is a genie in a bottle? Whenever we need something or want something then all that we have to do is confess it and God will give it to us, i.e., rub the bottle and make a wish. That is not conducive to being a friend of Christ. God is not our grocery store or genie. He is our heavenly Father that loves us very much.
To be a true friend of Christ’s is simply to obey him. That’s it. Obeying him does not imply having all of the things that you want or could possibly dream up. That doesn’t mean that you won’t or shouldn’t have nice things. It simply means that God’s love for you and your love for him (including friendship) should not revolve around what he can do for you. He has given you life so what could possibly be more precious then that?
Christians have eternal life with the Father. What material possession or dollar amount could be worth more than a personal and eternal relationship with God? No one can take your relationship with God away from you. God will certainly not give up on you. So that one treasure, your relationship with your friend, your heavenly father, is sure and safe for all eternity.
Be a true friend of Christ and therefore God by doing what he says. Be a true friend of Christ by living a lifestyle consistent with his word. Be a true friend of Christ by seeking after the kingdom of God and his righteousness instead of pursing riches on earth.
What It All Means
What if all of your so-called friends have abandoned you after they discovered that you have lost your job and can’t give the great parties that you once could? Suppose all of the help that you thought you would have in a particular situation did not materialize because no one came to your aid. Suppose life just seems to be one nightmare after another. Suppose life is treating you well and you have lots of nice things and everything seems to be going your way. The bottom line is that none of these matter overall. Why?
Because regardless of whom flees from you in your time of need or how great things seem to be, God is always with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will always be there to lift you up if you would only do what he says. It won’t be by magic or a miracle in most cases. Simple obedience. Simple activity (doing something) is all that is needed to overcome when we are true friends of God. Remember that this friendship is based on doing what he says, which is exactly what we need to do anyway in order to live fulfilled.
What it all means is summarized very nicely by Solomon.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (KJV) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
John 3:16 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Don’t worry. Don’t fret and don’t lose hope. God is with you. Reach out and draw nigh to him and he will come near to you (See James 4:8). Know that He will help you. Consider the following scripture as well, which provides a phenomenal revelation into how God works.
Proverbs 3:5 through Proverbs 3:6 (KJV) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
From this scripture we can land right at this one.
Mark 11:22 through Mark 11:24 (KJV) And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
You trust God and you love God. However, these are because he has shown himself to be trustworthy and lovable in that he first loved us. The mountain in the above verse represents an obstacle or hindrance. It doesn’t represent desires, as some would lead you to believe. Therefore, when trials and obstacles come upon you then all you have to do is to trust God and speak with confidence knowing that God loves you and is with you. Trusting God and faith are subjects beyond the scope of this lesson but suffice it for me to say that trusting God requires knowledge of him and a personal relationship with him so that the faith or trust that you have is genuine faith resident in your heart
Is there anything too hard for God? No. Is there anything too hard for you in Christ? No. So why worry? Why fret? Know that God is with you and access that love to live a fulfilled life in Christ. Don’t allow situations, people, and things get you down (though we do feel emotion). Don’t let the problems and obstacles in your life disable you from pursuing the true riches in Christ. Overcome them and live to your fullest. No you won’t be happy all of the time. Yes sometimes you will feel alone. The fact of the matter is that you are never alone. The truth is that God is always with you to lift you up, guide you, prosper you, and to fulfill your life. Live with that reality instead of the perception of trouble. Learn to see Jesus instead of the perceived outcome to your problems. Allow God to be a part of your life equation as you calculate the outcome of situations. You are his friend. He cares about you so start living like the creator of the entire universe, the almighty one, the all knowing one, and the all seeing one is on your side. If you are a Christian doing what Christ says then he considers you his friend. So why not start to live like you are a friend of the almighty one! Amen.
Friends of Christ
By William R. Cunningham
November 28, 1999