My husband and I once made a very good friend. We would often invite him for meals and we spent a lot of time doing things together. We were there when he got married, bought his first home and we considered him family. It was such a strong relationship that we even bought property near his home. Our relationship was built on “fun times" and activities.
After some years, we moved away but stayed in touch. As time passed, however, we heard less and less from our friend. When we did start hearing more from him it was because things had turned sour in his life. It seemed we only heard from him when times were going badly, but we were happy to be there for him and helped as we could. He eventually moved to where we lived. His life was disintegrating and we supported him in every way we knew how. He continually tried to encourage us to go out on the town with him and when we were at our home together he seemed detached and said we were boring. We were not the same people we had been in the earlier relationship. We were Christians who lived differently now and since he had no real relationship with God, he had no interest in sharing that part of our lives with us. We saw him occasionally at first, then only when he wanted us to do something for him and finally not at all.
When he moved away a few years later he stated to another friend that he did not owe anyone anything. We were hurt by that statement after decades of friendship, but we realized that while we had shown true friendship to him, it was only one-sided. He had not held the same feelings for us. We were not the same people he had once known. We were not interested in engaging in the things he wanted to do. He wanted us to follow him down a path we could not walk. It made it even more clear to us why God said we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).
We are told in James 4:4 that friendship with the world is enmity with God. This means that we are not to be involved with the sins of the world. Wrong relationships can draw us in and even gradually become acceptable to us. We should instead head the other direction down a different path. My husband and I had tried to maintain a friendship that was going nowhere. We had shown loving kindness to our old friend, which was a good thing. We want to shine our light to all people. But the friendship we maintained with God during all of this was what was really important.
When Abraham was called a friend of God it was no small thing (James 2:23). It meant his devotion and trustworthiness to God was clear. The relationship was important. In fact, God wants that kind of relationship with all of us. Through Bible study and prayer, we can build a real relationship with God. Our relationship with Him is important. Jesus Christ says we can be His friend if we do whatever He commands us (John 15:14).
Our relationships with each other are important to Him too
Ephesians 2:19 tells us that we can become “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” through our relationship to Him and His son Jesus Christ. To build a true friendship, we must not only be friendly (Proverbs 18:24) but show love, kindness and compassion for others. Scripture repeatedly tells us that we must love, encourage and edify one another. (e.g. John 15:17; 1 John 3:11; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Peter 3:8). Imagine if everyone lived like this today. There would be no more war, no more terrorism and no more backbiting. People would never have to escape their countries or fear their leaders.
Being a true friend means being there when everything is crumbling as well as when things are going well. We do not walk away when times get tough. Abraham was a true friend to God because he did not second-guess God. He went forward when most would have said no, and because of his trust in the relationship he never turned away from God. Our friend turned his back on us, but we loved him anyway. Though we may never speak again in this lifetime, he will surely remember that we were always true friends to him. We are after all to show love even to our enemies and to do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27; Matthew 5:44).