A true friend

girlfriendsby Trillia Newbell

I was thinking about my friendships today. I have some great friendships. I really do. But when the going gets tough, and it does at times, those sweet friendships can become sour. We can reject each other, play favorites, take sides, give the silent treatment, be quick to speak, slow to forgive. Those friendships don’t really sound that sweet-but they are. (And by the way, this includes my friendship with my best friend, my husband.) It’s simply the reality of being human and fighting sin while relating with others. But it dawned on me today as I was thinking about my friendships: we often do not trust others nor do we love without expectation and therefore we do not trust God and we do not think He can love without expectation.

God is holy-set apart-completely unlike people. But if we are honest, it’s often hard to separate how we think about people with how we think about God. Most people need to earn our trust and earn our love and friendship. Most of the time before a friend becomes a friend they prove themselves worthy. I’m not saying we consciously, though sometimes we may, pick and choose our friends based on their worthiness to be our friend, but it is subconscious. Are they like me? Do they like the same things? Do I feel comfortable around them? Those are some of the qualifying questions. We evaluate, we measure, we think. So when we approach God we can think similar thoughts. Do I measure up? Am I like Jesus? Did I do the wrong thing? How will He respond? Will God pull away from me? And again, this may not be our conscious thoughts but our actions can relay our thoughts of God. We don’t feel like we can approach so we pull away. Maybe we think He is going to reject us and we will never measure up so we continue in sin. Perhaps we think we will not be accepted so we work really hard to please Him.

God does not relate to us on human terms. His relating is supernatural and perfect. As a matter of fact, when Jesus died, we were not his friends, we were his enemy, and yet, he died for us.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

Now this is love. Christ didn’t ask us if we related to him. Christ didn’t wait for us to become better, good, approachable. Christ didn’t say be holy as I am holy and then I’ll die on the Cross and redeem you from the pit. Christ didn’t ask us for anything. God doesn’t ask us now for anything in order to approach him. He does not relate to us on our terms. He relates to us on His own terms and his word to us is righteous by the blood of the Lamb!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

That’s such good news! It is by grace, all of grace! Jesus is a friend of sinners. “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:19 ESV) He was mocked and rejected for his friendships to sinners. He was mocked and rejected for his friendship to those unworthy. He is still mocked and rejected for us. Yet we often don’t approach his throne of grace.

God wants us to come and receive his grace. To approach him as we are, unworthy, needy, self-righteous, and proud. He wants us to know Him and receive forgiveness. God does not reject us like we reject others, rather he welcomes us and invites us to worship Him! He invites us to receive friendship, love, grace, salvation, reward, favor, and so much more from our true friend!

Jesus is a friend of sinners! Praise God! Enjoy these lyrics:

Jesus, friend of sinners
Loved me ere I knew him
Drew me with his cords of love
Tightly bound me to him
Round my heart still closely twined
The ties that none can sever
For I am his and he is mine
Forever and forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
A crown of thorns you wore for me
Bruised for my transgressions
Pierced for my iniquities
The wrath of God that I deserved
Was poured out on the innocent
He took my place, my soul to save
Now I am his forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
I love to tell the story
Redeeming love has been my theme
And will be when in glory
Not death nor life nor anything
Can ever separate me
O love that will not let me go
Yes I am his forever

His Forever

Original words, vs. 1 by James G. Small (1863), music and new and alternate words by Pat Sczebel
As recorded on Overflow , Sovereign Grace Music

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