“A rule I have had for years is: to treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”
Friendship with God can be a liberating secret. It releases us from the terrible bondage of religion and ritual with all its negative connotations. Intimacy with our Lord will carry us beyond creed or doctrine to the place of true communion.
It’s not that the Law is bad, but in the intense light of God’s grace it’s a poor substitute. We value legalism, and that is precisely what we believe when we bypass the relationship. Doctrine is a good servant, but a poor master. Grace always trumps legalism.
We evangelicals talk big about “a personal relationship.” That is indeed crucial. But few be the believers that walk in a daily friendship with their Savior. That is truly a tragedy.
“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
John 15:15, NLT
Friendship with Jesus will bring true guidance. He shares secrets and wisdom to his friends. We are brought into a true knowledge of the Kingdom through the relationship of friendship with the King. We are not slaves– or drones, slavishly serving out of slavish fear.
We are His friends.
Jesus wants to confide in us; sharing mysteries hidden by time and sin. And his kingdom is full of amazing perplexities! He is looking to bring us into a willingness of a daily communion.
He will heal our wounds, and forgive all our sins. He is truly our savior as well as our friend.
Friendship comes with a price. It means we are now tethered to the Lord. That can get old, especially when I want to do my own thing. I will continually have to lay things down, and choose to accept tether and follow Him.
But my soul now has a best friend.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
There is nothing that will increase your strength and your character like the wilderness does. It is God’s gym; he works you out on his equipment. Good things will happen to all who exercise. The desert becomes a place of separation and resolve. It is not for the faint of heart.
This spiritual geography is also the launching pad for ministries: for Jesus’ public ministry was 40 days in the wilderness — the training for Moses’ powerful leadership of God’s people was 40 years in the desert — and maybe why you are serving your time in the wilderness, right now. It has to be. It is your place for this moment.
I tried to relieve your fears: “Don’t be terrified of them. God, your God, is leading the way; he’s fighting for you. You saw with your own eyes what he did for you in Egypt; you saw what he did in the wilderness, how God, your God, carried you as a father carries his child, carried you the whole way until you arrived here. But now that you’re here, you won’t trust God, your God—this same God who goes ahead of you in your travels to scout out a place to pitch camp, a fire by night and a cloud by day to show you the way to go.”
Deut. 1:31, ESV
At times of strenuous activity/emotion–he comes and carries us. He is exceedingly gentle, and he knows precisely what we need, and he sure doesn’t stint on his grace–he pours it out lavishly.
Once in the desert, the Father keeps a close-eye on all his children.
If you’re in the desert, know that your God is on duty. Nothing that comes to you sneaks past His alert observation and consent. (And after all, if you think about it, the wilderness is His as well.) We seem to always be on the anvil; in the wilderness where God is shaping us for higher things. But, by faith, it is a rich place to be.
“To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness – especially in the wilderness – you shall love him.”
Love, in Jesus,
An ‘open letter’ to my friend:
As believers in Him who passionately loves the world, we are on our knees asking that the Father would bring you salvation. We lift you up in our prayers, so that you will have an immediate and definite contact with the Holy Spirit. We have consecrated you to Him. You are now marked and set apart, as we await further instructions from our Father.
There is no happiness, no real satisfaction apart from Him. Just stop trying, you are getting nowhere. The pain and guilt are real, aren’t they? There is in you a deep sadness–a grief. But the Lord sees it, and absorbs it for you. He sets you free, not for you to duplicate the sin, but to set you free from it. His action on your life is meant to liberate you.
Dear one, you struggle so intensely and have so many issues. We know this, but we have prayed, and we gathered you up to Him. (You are now a real target, thanks to us.) All of the issues you face from now on, have been initiated by God, and us who pray. I hope they won’t be too many. That you’ll respond to them, and turn to Him.
You are welcome to join us, we are indeed waiting just for you.
So enter into the grim arena. Already we have stepped into its ugly locales. You can meet us there. We know that there is no one who can keep us from His Spirit. You will find us standing against gladiator, and lion and sin. You are welcome to join us, we are indeed waiting just for you.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”