James 2:22-23 (NKJV) You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
It is nice to have friends. I spent the day with my best girlfriend yesterday. We attended a holiday market, enjoyed a quiet lunch and shopped some home goods stores before heading home. It was just the two of us which doesn’t happen often so it’s special when we can get away. Talking and laughing together. Everyone needs friends. Confidants who can share our burdens and trust them to in turn agree with us in prayer. God designed relationships. He loves friendships. Iron needs iron to be sharpened or it becomes dull on its own. We need “Jonathan and David” bonds guarding each other and looking out for one another. The enemy roars to scatter God’s People while He carefully, lovingly and faithfully works to bring us back again. God didn’t create us to be alone and isolated but fully engaged in loving and powerful bonds with each other. But there must be something first…
God created us to live in a love relationship with Him first. To have a “working” relationship with God the Father requires surrendering our heart, mind, body and soul to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty but so often religion makes us think salvation, repentance and redemption is the exchange of one set of shackles for the next. Not so, friend. God desperately wants to free you from unmet expectation and a lack of fulfillment so that He can meet and exceed them all until you have a rich and satisfying life but first there must be a relationship. A real relationship of love and trust. Otherwise it will spark resentment and discontentment of a new kind within us. God does need you to work for Him. He needs to work through you and me. There is a big difference. When we work for God from our own strength, it becomes another burden. The sacrifice seems too high. There is never enough time in the day or energy in our body to meet the human expectation of life lived for God outside of Christ.
You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
Faith is both spiritual and practical. It does on our lips if it never makes it to our actions. It must move from a random thought to a radical belief producing a new lifestyle of trusting God in every situation, condition and circumstance regardless of the improbability. With God – all things are possible to those who believe. Faith must become our belief system and dictate how we operate in this life. “Working together” implies relationship. Our faith in God must become our partner – it is how we become yoked to Christ (Matthew 11) and the burdens once carried as a heavy weight and burden are lifted. Faith creates works and works perfect our faith. The “works” in my life attributed to faith must be covered in great love and devotion before they are bonds of friendship and not responsibility. I am no longer responsible for my life – faith tells me to give it all to the Lord and let Him work through me – this is how I become a friend of the Living God.
Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV) A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
There are many acquaintances in the world today. The new perception of “friend” is now dictated by social media rather than true relationships. God loves relationships. He wants a deep and abiding relationship with each one of us. Hence the unthinkable sacrifice of His Only Son – Jesus. A man who has friends must be friendly. However, human relationships do not fulfill our expectation of relationship. God doesn’t take friendship lightly. John 11:11 – Jesus calls Lazarus “friend” which is the same use as in this passage. It means beloved. He is calling his friend – his loved one. It is more than an acquaintance. Jesus is connected to Lazarus with heartstrings intact. God longs to be friends with us. He is not looking for slaves or workers but lovers. Those who love Him and desire Him as He does us which will result in faith. Faith that must be expressed in our life with words, works and more. We will seek His Presence. Think about Him. Long to be with Him. Choose Him first. Steal precious moments for quiet conversation sharing our innermost thoughts. God loves you. He loves me. When our relationship with Jesus puts in right standing with God, all the rules and regulations are fulfilled and now we are free to live and love in Christ. Our lives will change for the better when we want Him more than any other relationship. Ironically, in the moment that is our relationship to God – our friendships and relationships with others will flourish, too!