Even more important for you, how can you build a relationship like that?
"My friend." That's how God referred to the patriarch Abraham (Isa. 41:8). What a remarkable relationship! A limited, physical, mortal being thought of by the all-powerful, immortal, all-knowing, supreme God as His dearly loved friend. How was such a relationship possible? What constitutes that kind of friendship? Have you ever analyzed this question? You have encountered many people in your life. You will no doubt encounter many more. Dozens, hundreds, even thousands of individuals become acquaintances, but only some of them become close friends. Why? Exactly what is a friend? What is friendship?
Think about it. Your very best friends — your "bosom buddies" — are those who agree with you on the greatest number of really important issues. Friends think alike. The constant clashing of opinions and preferences does not make for a close relationship. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" the prophet Amos asked (Amos 3:3). The answer, of course, is no. Two people walking together over a distance must be in exact agreement as to where they are headed, the direction they are going and the speed with which they are traveling. If they are not in precise agreement, after going a short distance they will no longer be walking together. Abraham walked with God. That means Abraham was in precise agreement with God. He was in step all the way. God said of him, "Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws" (Gen. 26:5). Abraham agreed with God. He did not follow the ways of the world of this day. Being in agreement with the world and its wrong ways is what the Bible terms "the friendship of the world." James wrote that "the friendship of the world is enmity with God" (Jas. 4:4). James went on to say that "whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Abraham was not a friend of the world around him. He forsook it, choosing rather to be a friend of God. Notice the account in Genesis 12:1-4. God told Abraham to leave his homeland, his familiar surroundings. He was to come out of the society — the "world" — of his time, just as Christians must be willing to come out of the world today. In obedience, through faith, Abraham "went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). It was sufficient that God had told him to go. "So Abram departed," says Genesis 12:4. Spiritually speaking, Christians must come out of the world around them, forsaking its ways that are in opposition to God's ways, even though, physically, they continue to live in the world (John 17:14-16).
Ability to freely confide
Isn't it true that your closest friends are those individuals in whom you can best confide? You can communicate your deep feelings and convictions to them, knowing you have a supportive listener. You can discuss what is on your mind, sharing your joys, your observations, your plans and, yes, your regrets and sorrows. In the most intense friendships, nothing needs be held back. Jesus said to His disciples, "I have called you friends; for all things that T have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). Best friends are not only persons in whom you can confide, they in turn confide in you. Trustful confidence is a two-way street. We ought to have that kind of relationship with our God. God confides in us through His Word and His Spirit. We must confide in Him. We must spend time talking to Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, telling Him "every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer" (Phil. 4:6, Phillips translation). Abraham was open with God and talked freely to Him, as the biblical accounts of various events in his life show. Of him God could truly say, "I know him" (Gen. 18:19). Abraham was not like those Jesus talked about, who have a form of religion, who even do wonderful works, but who never become really acquainted with God. "I never knew you" is what Jesus will have to say to them one day (Matt. 7:23).
We've all heard of fair-weather friends. When everything is going smoothly they are pleased to be on friendly terms. But as soon as problems develop or they have to give more than they could possibly gain from a relationship, they suddenly become distant. Even physical brothers and sisters may bicker and squabble. When a genuine outside threat presents itself, however, they often close ranks and support each other. Then, when the adversity has passed, they may go back to squabbling again. That's why Solomon declared that real friendship is a stronger bond than flesh and blood ties alone. He wrote that "a brother is born for adversity," in contrast to "a friend [who] loveth at all times" (Prov. 17:17). Further, he stated that "there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). This world is filled with lonely people — people who have few or no real friends. Perhaps at some time or another they were disappointed or betrayed by other human beings, had hopes shattered, were disillusioned. Real friends are loyal to each other when the going is easy and when it is rough. They support each other. And sacrifice for each other. The ultimate degree of friendship was described by Jesus when He stated, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Jesus went all the way for us. If we want to be His friends, we must be willing to go all the way in proving our loyalty to Him. "Ye are my friends," said Jesus, "if ye do whatsoever I command you" (verse 14). Such a statement, made by any mere human being, could be considered the height of arrogance. Not so in Jesus' case, however. Being God, everything He commands us to do is right and good — good for us and good for everybody else. Certainly, there are times when doing what God commands us to do may not seem, judging by human reason alone (see Proverbs 14:12), to be best. This is where loyalty is put to the test. God commanded Abraham to slay, as a sacrifice, his only son Isaac. Abraham could have thought of many reasons why he should not slay Isaac. After all, if Isaac were to be killed, how could God bless Abraham's descendants? And besides, killing another human is a sin, isn't it? And also... And ort and on. But no, Abraham did as God commanded. He was loyal to his Creator. He proved his faith by his works. "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and [as a result] he was called the Friend of God" (Jas. 2:23).
A friend is dependable. God says to us, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). We can depend on Him. Do we give Him reason to believe the same of us, that we will never leave or forsake Him, that He can depend on us? How we as Christians cope with the trials, obstacles and temptations of this life reveals to God to what extent He can depend on us to do His will in the future. He needs to know He can depend on us to do what is right before He can grant us immortality and the awesome powers of the God Family. Probably Abraham's willingness to slay his son, more than any other single action, made him God's friend — proved to God that he could be depended on. "For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me," God proclaimed (Gen. 22:12). Notice the words of Nehemiah 9:7-8: "Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram... And foundest his heart faithful before thee." What a commendation! If we walk with God, if we confide in Him and let Him confide in us, if we are loyal to Him, and if He sees He can depend on us, then God will find our hearts faithful to Him also, just as He did the heart of Abraham, His friend.