“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:18,19).
NOWADAYS, IT MAY NOT BE UNUSUAL TO THINK OF GOD IN TERMS OF LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP, BUT THESE ARE RADICAL, EVEN REVOLUTIONARY, THOUGHTS INDEED. We should never lose our sense of wonder at this fact: our Creator, though awesomely powerful, is One whom we may contemplate with love rather than fear. The truth that God has moved toward us in love and that we are able to respond to His initiative in love is a thought worth more than all our worldly possessions combined.
The Bible uses the word “friendship” to describe the relationship we can have with God through Jesus Christ (James 2:23; 4:4). Sin having created “enmity” between us and our loving Creator, He has made possible our “reconciliation” to Himself (Romans 5:10,11; 2 Corinthians 5:18–21; Colossians 1:19–23). Our rebellion can be forgiven. We can come back home. And when we do, we come back home to a God who desires us to think of Him as a beloved Friend. These thoughts are nothing less than marvelous.
In our love for God, I believe it is important for us to love Him as a Friend. It’s obvious that, wherever God is concerned, our concept of friendship must be tempered with reverence. But still it is important that we see Him as our Friend. God is not only lovable; He is also likeable. We may not only adore Him; we may also trust Him. It is not only our duty to worship Him; it is our privilege to spend time with Him. We must come before Him with profound respect, certainly, and also with penitent humility. But in addition to respect and humility, God also desires our friendship. He offers us a friendship unlike any we’ve ever had.
Which comes first, our love for God or our friendship with Him? Perhaps much could be said about the priority of love. But it may also be helpful to think of it the other way around. God has proven His kindly intentions toward us, and He has demonstrated His trustworthiness. In Christ, a friendship can be restored that was lost by our sin. That having been accomplished, the God who has become our Friend can also become our Lover. In Christ, friendship has a chance to grow into something even finer.
“Love is friendship set to music” (Robert Pollock).