Best Friends Forever
What does it take to be a friend? I have always wondered.
I was the girl without a best friend forever.
And I did not deserve one because in the convent school I went to I had been labelled as worse than the black sheep. I was a leper, with tinkling bells to warn people to stay away from me. So you can imagine the agony I experienced when we were asked to write a composition about: My best friend. The whole class seemed wait with bated breath as to whom I would name. I can still hear the whispers like at the last supper when Jesus said that one of them was going to betray him. My former best friend’s whisper was loudest as she said, “ Surely not I.” I sat there benumbed, desperate, unable to write and when I did write the name , it spread like fire in a harmattan. All eyes turned pityingly to the culprit of my purported friendship. That moment she withered like Peter in Caiaphas’ courtyard when one of the girls identified him as one of those with JESUS, and like Him too, she denied me, “ I am not her best friend.” And for me there was no cock crow to redeem me from the betrayal.
In an act of ego defence, I purposed never to desire the friendship of people; I would be friendly, but no one was going to ever get the best friend forever slot in my heart, that went both ways, I did not want to be anyone’s BFF. I decided from then that there really was no such thing as a best friend on this earth. And if there was, there was no blueprint to emulate, for it seemed that people “fell” into and out of best friendships based on paltry standards such as: physical looks, social status, colour, intelligence among other things. Few were friendships based on noble traits such as sacrifice, loyalty: no greater love has a man than to lay down His life for his friends. So I felt safe in my cocoon until I encountered God’s amazing friendship through Christ Jesus. It was then that my world view on friendship was shattered and I began to understand and value true friendship and even condescend to be one. Praise to God I discovered the blueprint in the friendship between Abraham, nobly called the friend of God, and God Himself. To be a friend of God surely is no small matter.
So what did it take for Abraham to become God’s friend? Nothing. Abraham did nothing to deserve God’s friendship for he was a sinful man living among sinful men and worshipping strange gods. He was a man who was an enemy to Yahweh, the Holy, High and lifted up and in whom there is no shadow of turning, yet God initiated a friendship with sinful Abraham. God called Him and Abraham responded and it was accounted to him as righteousness. For me this truth about friendship was radical for I had lived believing that you had to measure up to some standard before you could be considered worthy of friendship. This friendship is the same that God has extended to us through Christ Jesus, “ Because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” It is still the friendship He extends even to the vilest offender who truly believes for God did not come those who are well, but sinners to repentance. He is the friend of sinners.
God did not only initiate a friendship with Abraham, but He, God, went ahead to make a covenant with him. Usually a covenant requires the shedding of blood and death of those who ratify it. In the old covenant, they were required to sacrifice animals. This sacrifice showed that the individual making it was committed to fulfilling all the requirements even unto death. As he killed the animals it was as if he was saying, “ The same be done to me if I do not keep my side of the covenant.” Abraham was far from perfect to enter into an equal covenant with God for in Genesis 12 he lies about Sarah and later there is the issue of Ishmael. Albeit God asked him to sacrifice a heifer, goat, ram, turtledove, and pigeon, which he did. However, Abraham waited for God to show up till he fell asleep. And when he was asleep, only then did God appear and pass through the sundered pieces and make a covenant. Here again we see faithfulness and loving kindness hallmarks of God’s friendship. God knew that Abraham was flesh and would break his side of the covenant, therefore God made a covenant with Himself. Only God is able to remain faithful to himself. Even in the new covenant, He has promised to remain faithful: He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in Christ Jesus. ( Phil1:6). Now that is a friend worth having.
After making a covenant with Abraham, God went on to maintain this friendship. He did this not only by blessing him greatly but also by sharing confidences with him. For example, when God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, He portrays the noblest accolade of friendship: “ The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great nation, and in him all the nation’s of the earth will be blessed?” God did not hide his plan to destroy the sinful cities from His friend Abraham; He also allowed Abraham to I intercede for them. His intercession, which takes a form of questioning, shows confidence and boldness many would be afraid to express even before human authorities. God bore with Abraham because he was His friend. Through Christ we have also become the friends of God and have all his confidences: “ No longer do I call you slaves, for a slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” ( John 15:15) Therefore we too like Abraham can “ draw near with confidence to the throne of Grace, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at our time of need.” ( Heb 4:16)
So far it seems like an unequal friendship. God calls Abraham, promises to bless him, makes an everlasting covenant and even shares His secrets with him. So how was Abraham supposed to reciprocate? Abraham was supposed to remain faithful and committed to God. However, the kind of commitment that God expected from Abraham was not mere lip service , but a true heartfelt one. To find out if Abraham was a true friend or simply mercenary, loving God for his blessings rather than for Himself, God put him to the test. He asked him for his most treasured possession: his only begotten son: “ Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will show you.” ( Genesis 22:2) Abraham obeyed the command, and because of that, he was called the friend of God and God gave him back his son from the dead. God still tests those He calls friends and calls them “ to die daily”, “ to count it loss” or to “offer themselves as living sacrifices as their ultimate acts of worship” among many exhortations. Love for Him must be all consuming and not admit the preference for self, brother, father , mother or sister, for if it does, then it is unworthy for the one who asked His friend to sacrifice his only son.
The friendship of Abraham and God was completed through Christ who swept away all old things and made all things new. While once God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a sign of his commitment to the covenant , now God far surpassed Abraham by sacrificing His only begotten Son, whom He loved, to redeem the descendants of Abraham who were under the curse of sin: “ God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” ( John 3:16) . Through the the death of Christ a new covenant was forged and availed even greater promises than the old. Through Christ, Abraham’s seed, all nations of the world, both Jews and Gentiles have become co- heirs of God with Christ. No longer are they under the law but under grace. All who believe in Jesus Christ are all Abraham’s descendants and have become friends of God forever and are no longer under condemnation. What a wonderful privilege.
Again and again the circle of friendship goes on and on, beginning with an unmerited call to friendship; to an everlasting covenant; to a testing of commitment, and eventually to the completion and continuance of this covenant of friendship forever more. Abraham heeded the call of friendship and even if he was imperfect and kept falling short, God maintained the covenant of friendship unfailingly. Even so today, when you heed God’s call to friendship, He will keep the friendship by remaining faithful to Himself and keep you from falling, for it is “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our saviour, through Jesus Christ, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).
I was once the girl without a best friend forever, but with Christ in me the hope of glory I have the BEST FRIEND EVER FOREVER . Soli Deo Gloria.