Artwork by YMI X Lara Lynch
We love the idea of telling Jesus whatever’s on our hearts, of having someone to share in our burdens or comfort us when we’re lonely. But how often do we think about how we’re being friends to Jesus? And how can we go beyond the superficial relationship of just receiving from Him to cultivating that deep intimacy with Him?
As with all relationships, it takes two hands to clap. Here are some handles to help us learn how to grow deeper with God as we grow in our delight of seeing Him as a perfect, constant friend.
1. Invite God into every aspect of our lives
John 15:15 tells us that as followers of Jesus, He no longer calls us servants but friends, ones with whom He shares everything He has “learned from the Father”.
If this is the kind of intimacy that Jesus longs to draw us into—being part of His “inner circle” and having direct access to God’s plans—what better way for us to be a friend to Him than to also invite Him into our decision-making process and plans?
Seeing God as our friend means we don’t just go to Him in times of trouble or when we’re on the verge of executing our plans (and then asking Him to bless them). Let’s seek His counsel, involve Him in every aspect of our lives, and submit to Him in “all our ways” (Proverbs 3:5-6), so that we’ll walk closely with Him through every season and remain on the paths of righteousness.
2. Take time to engage and know Him
Just as we would constantly share highlights of our day with a friend, we can do the same with God as well. Whenever we experience little joys throughout the day, see His fingerprints in creation or in a Bible verse we have been meditating on, or witness a plan He’s been weaving come together, share those moments with God. Doing so deepens our enjoyment of Him as we see the blessings He’s provided for us.
But besides just enjoying the good gifts He’s given us, let’s also take the time and effort to truly know the giver Himself, by echoing this same desire Moses expressed in Exodus 33:13, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”
Let’s ask the Lord to teach us His ways that we may know Him and continue to find favour with Him. And as He does so, let’s treasure His Word in our hearts, and allow them to direct our course and actions. The more we spend time with Him, the more His friendship will bring delight to our hearts (Psalm 37:4).
3. Remember how much He empathises with us
What do you do when a good friend lets you down or makes a decision you can’t quite understand?
We all have these moments with God too—times when we’re at a crossroad and He seems silent, when we struggle to understand why He acted in a certain way, or when He leads us down a path we wouldn’t choose for ourselves. Will we abandon Him or still choose to love Him unwaveringly, intimately, and sacrificially?
In times like these, it’s crucial to remember who we are relating to in the first place. Unlike our friends who are sinful and human like us, Jesus—though He is human like us—is without any sin. He is our high priest who was tempted in every way just as we are, and is able to empathise with our weaknesses, and show us a better way forward (Hebrews 4:15).
As we walk with Him through our trials, sufferings, and the setbacks of this life, we learn that He is the only one we can put our trust in.
4. Receive His counsel openly and willingly
Have you ever blue-ticked a friend because his or her message delivered wounds that went a little too deep—leaving you feeling raw and exposed (Proverbs 27:6)—especially in those moments when you’re fuming over a perceived injustice, wrestling with selfishness, or processing disappointments from your decisions? Similarly, we’re tempted to “ghost” God so we don’t have to listen to His counsel and can continue nursing our wounds or secret sins.
But that’s exactly the nature of true friends. They stay with us even at times when we’re unbearable and unloveable—but also desire for us to let go of the things that are weighing us down and walk in true freedom (Hebrews 12:1).
Let’s not harden our hearts to His voice (Hebrews 3:12-14) or tune Him out when we feel that what He’s asking of us is too difficult. Understanding God’s heart for us in those moments—that He desires to rescue us from our self-destructive ways—helps us see the kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).
5. Join Him in His mission
Many of us struggle to live out these words of Jesus from John 15:4, “You are my friends if you do what I command you”, because we know He’s calling us to an obedience that isn’t tied to our convenience or comfort, but to our covenantal relationship with Him (Psalm 25:14).
But what if we saw this obedience and friendship as a privilege—a way for us to understand God’s heart and plans for us (John 15:15)? Just as spending time with a friend doing an activity you love brings enjoyment to a friendship, there’s no better way to cultivate a deeper joy in our friendship with God than to walk with Him, partner with Him, and live out our mission with Him by our side.
Jesus’ mission is clear: to draw all men to God’s marvellous light and reconcile us to the Father (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Being part of His mission (Matthew 25:40) might mean doing things that make us uncomfortable: such as befriending the people that are closest to God’s heart—the brokenhearted (Psalm 38:14), sharing what we have with the poor (Proverbs 19:17), or speaking up for the marginalised (Proverbs 31:8-9).
But doing so helps us understand the magnitude of His grace towards us. It reminds us how holy He is, how sinful and helpless we are, and how awesome it is that the King of all kings would want to extend His love and friendship towards us. And as we carry God’s hope into the hearts of the hopeless, it kindles a heart of gratitude for His generous display of love.
When we see God’s heart for us in the Bible and see Him as a friend, the way we relate to Him will change—He will be someone we delight in, and with whom we desire to share our deepest thoughts and plans with.