“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)
Have you ever considered the difference between being a follower of Jesus and being a friend of Jesus? I assure you that difference is as profound as it is personal. Let’s take a look and see if you are not greatly encouraged this day.
First, we must understand the order of things from a biblical perspective. You cannot be a friend of Jesus until you are first a follower of Jesus.
He said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
Jesus makes the first move in our relationship with Him. He comes to us, gives us the gift of faith, and calls us to follow Him. In order to follow Jesus, we must be willing to put down our nets and pick up His. Jesus wants us to leave our old life behind and begin walking in the newness of our reborn life in Christ. This means that as we begin to walk by faith in following Jesus, we begin to live for something bigger than the life we are currently living in the flesh. And I can tell you that living with a greater concern for expanding the cause of His kingdom than our own little kingdom is a wonderful place to live.
But there is so much more for the Christian! Jesus tells us, “I no longer call you servants . . . Instead, I have called you friends” (John 15:15). The disciples were still followers of Jesus, but now they followed Him as friends, which carries the understanding of deep intimacy.
Friendship with God is the place of highest honor. The prophet Isaiah tells us that Israel was God’s “servant” and Jacob was God’s “chosen one,” but Abraham was God’s “friend” (Isaiah 41:8). Please understand that the difference is not found at the level of relationship; they were all in relationship with God. They all followed their God wherever He led them. The difference lies in the level of intimacy. There was something deeper going on at a heart level between Abraham and God, a level of love and trust that is the key to understanding the difference between being a follower and being a friend of God.
Are God’s desires your desires? Are God’s goals your goals in life? Are you able to say along with Jesus, “Not my will, but thy will be done”? If the answer is yes, then be greatly encouraged today, for you have entered into the intimate circle of friendship with God. And that indeed is a special place to be!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!