There are many ties that come down from God like golden threads, and twine themselves about us to bind us to Him. He is our Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, Ruler, Father, Judge, and bears many other relationships; but there is one tie amid them all that is somewhat different from all the others, and that is friendship. God is our Friend, and we can, through sanctifying grace and by walking in the steps of Abraham, become the real friends of God.
More Than Pardon
The friendship of God is something more than pardon, or heart purity, or the baptism with the Holy Ghost. It is the coming together of our souls with God on something that looks like equality of interests and fellowship. Friendship is a peculiar bond which is not confounded with other ties of relationship. We may have friendship for our friends, or parents or children, or brothers and sisters, or masters, or servants; but pure friendship may exist outside of all these relationships.
Friendship involves some sort of equality of reciprocity, mutual tastes, mutual interests, mutual confidence, mutual agreement, and community of thought, and sympathy, to promote mutual happiness. Friendship must be free from anything like authority, or dominion, or the legislation of duties, or selfish, mercenary motives. True friendship cannot be bought, or commanded, or teased, or frightened into existence, but is a delicate thing, and must come spontaneously, like flowers in the spring. It must not be scolded, or chafed, or begged. It is the perfume that flows out from the coming together of secret affinities in the soul.
Friendship is the echo of two souls who are like mountains properly adjusted to each other. Now do over all these points and see how they set forth the pure friendship between God and His trusting creature. What an unutterable condescension for our infinite heavenly Father to so come down and seemingly put Himself on an equality with us, as to take us into a real, positive friendship with Himself! When a father romps with his little child on the floor, and plays horse for the child to ride upon, for the time being there is no thought of his parental authority, or dignity, or his being the lawgiver, or a judge, or a provider, or a protector of the child, but only an equal, and merging himself for the time being into a playmate for his little darling. This gives us a faint idea of what God becomes to us in being our friend, and in letting Himself down into the limits of our interests and feelings.
Friendship with God is set forth in Scriptures as the basis of prevailing prayer. Jesus says, “Which of you shall have a friend to whom you can go at midnight and ask bread for one in need?” Abraham was the friend of God, and on the basis of that friendship he interceded for the people of Sodom. Every tie that binds us to God has beauty, but there is something in Divine friendship that has a power and a charm all its own.
Enduring and Never Failing
The friendship of God outlasts that of all others. God is the only friend who never fails us. How frequently and easily the friendships of earth grow threadbare and wear out! As children, we all had little friendships that we thought would last forever, but in the few years the delicate romance passed away and the friends drifted from us. Then came youth with its friendships that we thought were rooted in granite; but they obeyed the same law of change and transitoriness. And then came middle life, with its more thoughtful and serious friendships, which after a while were rent with cruel misunderstandings and unexplained silences, and so languidly declined. And then we drift on to the lonely, quiet havens of old age, into which we anchor our riper years, to find that change and decay have characterized all earthly things, including what we once supposed were friendships riveted with steel.
It is not always because friends have been unfaithful, but often on account of the pressure of life that we are separated. We were but poor creatures, and each had his special callings, peculiar burdens, diverse paths of travel, and the constant changes of new scenes, new circumstances, new acquaintances, new thoughts, new feelings; and, like passing ships at sea, we lived a while in the sight of each other’s sails, and enjoyed the beautiful signalings by flags or rockets from soul to soul, but each had to make a several port, and so we slipped over the rim of the sea and lost sight of each other. But God is the dear faithful Friend, from whom we never sail away, and who always is going our way, and making for the same port, and whose interests are always our own.
The very things that have killed off the friendships of other people have only made God more and more a friend to us. Just where other friendships wear out, God’s friendship wears in. The things that make others forget us are the very things that make God remember us. Just where our failures and infirmities and sorrows overtax the patience of earthly friends, God’s friendship breaks out afresh like finding a gold mine on a piece of poor land whose fertility had been exhausted.
God’s friendship was not conditioned on our beauty, or prosperity, or success, or popularity; but on our being His own creatures who need Him forever. God’s friendship for us was never touchy, nor fastidious, nor rash, nor overbearing, nor critical, nor dependent on what other people thought about us. God has proved Himself over and over to be the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
Deeper and Stronger
God’s friendship goes deeper down into our nature than is possible for any creature friendship. His friendship not only takes cognizance of the needs of our bodies and minds, but penetrates to the inner depths of our spirit nature. His friendship is stronger than all others, because He knows us better, and while He knows the natural meanness, and deception, and frailty of our moral nature, more than anyone else does, yet away beyond that He knows what we can be made, and what in our heart of hearts we long to become, and so His blessed eye can see something in the outcome of our lives and our salvation, that will, in the end, perfectly astonish those acquaintances who think we never can amount to very much. Oftentimes our creature friends see just enough in us to get tired of us, and ignore us; but if they could go deeper down, and see what God sees, their love would be far different.
We can say things to God that we would never say to anyone else. We feel more at ease with His blessed, pure eyes searching us through and through than we can under the gaze of a fellow man. God never tattles about us, never misunderstands us, never puts on any stilted, artificial dignity, never tries to hurt our feelings, never throws our forgiven sins back into our faces, never scolds us because of our natural deficiencies, never brags on His own aristocracy and superiority to us, never lets His friendship be suspended on a thread of mere technicality, never ostracizes us to give audience to people of more popular reputation. His friendship makes us feel at home with Him, and that we have a right to all His secret fellowship and His tender caresses, and that all of His blessed self is for us, without stint, without reserve, as truly as boundlessly as for any saint or angel that ever was. God’s presence does not oppress the privacy of our secret lives, but His infinite majesty rests down upon us like the pressure of the atmosphere, without being a burden, and His very infinity gives us a childlike familiarity with Him, which we never could take with any of the great ones of Earth, or even with our nearest earthly relatives.
Men, even Christian men, who pass for great saints, and who are fairly canonized before death, when they are allowed to have money, or plumed and uniformed, and live in extravagance, and head great processions, and be dictatorial, and lord it over God’s heritage until they play the fool in the name of religion. On the contrary, our blessed God wears all the splendor of infinite majesty, with the gentle sweetness of a little lamb and without bluster, or boasting, or a trace of that vulgar thing that men call aristocratic pomp, He opens His friendship to each of us, without partiality. We are never common to God. He never loses His respect for each of us. He never calls us hard names, or pours sarcasm on our failures. Oh, what a God we have! Who of us cannot say with Solomon, “He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved and this is my friend.”