And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. [James 2:23]
Child of God
It’s fairly easy to understand being a child of God. That phrase is used in many conversations. When someone places his or her faith in Christ Jesus and is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he or she becomes a child of God.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [John1:12-13]
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! [1 John 3:1]
However, I must admit I haven’t thought about being a friend of God. What does that mean and what does it involve?
Friend of God
Abraham was recognized as a friend of God because of his deep, unwavering faith in and obedience to God [Isaiah 41:8]. Jesus furthered that thought by saying His followers were His friends “if you do whatever I command you” [John 15:14]. So, we can align friendship with obedience. After all, how can two people walk together unless they are in agreement [Amos 3:3]? How can two people enjoy the fellowship of friendship if they oppose each other? James says this is impossible:
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. [James 4:4]
This brings us face to face with two spiritual concepts: standing and state. My standing as a child of God is secure with salvation and regeneration. However, my state as a friend of God depends on my conduct, my obedience to Him, and my yielding to His ongoing sanctification.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. [Ephesians 5:1]
That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. [Philippians 2:15]
Child But Not Friend
I may not always act like a child, but I am still a child—still in relationship with my father. But when I don’t act like a friend, I strain the relationship and fellowship suffers. A child may wander; a true friend remains loyal. Sonship is a relationship by birth; friendship is a relationship by choice.
As the parable of the prodigal son reveals [Luke 15:11-32], the son was still a son even though wallowing in the pigpen of sin. But his fellowship of friendship with his father was strained by the son’s rebellion and disobedience. It was only when the son returned to the father, confessed his wrongdoing, and asked for forgiveness that the warmth of the friendship returned.
Summary: Be Both!
If you’re not a child of God, I encourage you to become one today. Place your complete faith and trust in Jesus. Confess Him as your personal Lord and Savior. Surrender your heart and life to Him and invite Him into every aspect of your life. Ask Him to save you and infuse you with His Spirit.
If you are already a child of God, deepen and cherish your friendship with God. Align your life, conduct, lifestyle, mindset, everything with Him. Surrender immediately anything that strains your fellowship with God, ask for His forgiveness, and then continue to strengthen your friendship. Live each day in the fondness and transformation of the friendship.
May we all become both children and dear friends of God.