Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. – James 4:8 (NLT)
Mr. Warren explains some building blocks of a deeper friendship with God. “Choosing to be honest with God” is one of them. “God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but he does insist on complete honesty. None of God’s friends in the Bible were perfect.” They were honest about their feelings. They were “often complaining, second-guessing, accusing, and arguing with their Creator. God, however, didn’t seem to be bothered by this frankness; in fact, he encouraged it.”
What a relief, huh? All the questioning I’ve done and felt guilty about; all the anger and blame I’ve directed toward him; I’ve raised my voice to him – all of these things I’ve done and felt guilt over, because I was told to never question God. Do we think God expects us to be perfect? We are told to not question? Follow, obey, respect, do not question, do as I say. These are things we’ve been told to do for the sake of not being struck down by lightning – woe be the person to face God’s wrath!
To learn it’s ok to be ourselves, to be angry with him, when we feel the need, to question when we are completely confused, to yell at him for his not helping us – wow! I feel a leetle better now. Now, this is not to say that we go out there and be completely disrespectful. Just as you question a parent or your closest friend or spouse when you disagree, set some boundaries for yourself with what you say and how you say it. Don’t be completely disrespectful. I have been. Though, it is nice to know that we can be upset with him and angry with him and voice our concerns, with anger and confusion. He welcomes this? He appreciates our frankness? More than our respect and obedience, he wants our honesty.
“Abraham questioned and challenged” God and even made a negotiation. “David accused” God of “unfairness, betrayal and abandonment.” “Jeremiah claimed God had tricked him.” “Job vented his bitterness”… “and in the end, God defended Job for being honest, and he rebuked Job’s friends for being inauthentic.” Be real with God. Just as you get ticked off with your best friend for whatever reason, don’t hold it in if it’s important, don’t harbor resentment or hurt feelings and say nothing, ultimately hurting and possibly destroying your friendship. Share with your friend. Express your feelings and try to resolve so you can continue your friendship. Let God know how you feel, good or bad or indifferent. Don’t fail to express yourself out of fear of what he’ll do to you, ’cause ya know what? He will respect you more for your honesty.
“Genuine friendship is built on disclosure. What may appear as audacity God views as authenticity. God listens to the passionate words of his friends; he is bored with predictable, pious clichés. To be God’s friend, you must be honest to God, sharing your true feeling, not what you think you ought to feel or say.”
Another building block is “choosing to obey God in faith.” “We are friends with God, but we are not his equals. He is our loving leader, and we follow him.”
“We obey”… “not out of duty or fear or compulsion, but because we love him and trust that he knows what is best for us.”
At times, we are challenged to do great things for God. He is more pleased when we do those small things to make him smile, no matter if they go unseen by others. In fact, the things we do for God mean so much more to him when we do them out of obedience and do it without being noticed by others – doing it for God, not so others can witness you doing good. Then, you are truly in God’s employment. When you go to church just to be seen there by your neighbor or wondering “what they might think” by not showing up – these are the wrong reasons for having anything to do with church. “Oh, I’m a good person because I go to church.” “I’m so loved by members of my community or social group, because I am present in church every Sunday.” Have you ever thought this? Really? Do you think God is happy because you are in church? Why are you really there? Are you there for him? Or are you there to be seen by all these people who know you? If you want to go to church, do it for the right reasons – to simply worship God/Jesus, to learn and study about God/Jesus and to fellowship with people who are needing your love and fellowship, and together, wish to love and serve God/Jesus.
What are all the reasons you go to church? Some people actually believe all they have to do is go to church and they are saved – they’ll get their ticket into heaven. Church is not a free pass. This is not what saves you. Do you need your free ticket into heaven? Your ticket has already been purchased for you and I can share with you how to get your ticket. Only through Jesus. Learn for yourself what he did for you. Don’t take my word for it. “Seek and you will find.” “The truth is out there.” 😉
“Choosing to value what God values” is another building block. Friends care about what’s important to the other. When you begin to become friends with God, what is important to him will become important to you, and vice versa.
“God told the captives in Babylon, “When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” The Bible is more than a history book. He feels the same way today. The Bible hasn’t changed. People have. Times have changed. The Bible always remains the same. God changed his mind about many things after Jesus came along. Since then, God has remained unchanging.
Yesterday is gone. Leave your regrets, your worries, frustration, resentment, depression, aimlessness and restlessness (ah! and anger!) in yesterday. It’s gone now. My hope for all of us, myself included, is to go into this day and work through this day with a heart filled with love, kindness and compassion. Be gentle with yourself as well as others. Happy Friday everybody! This is a new day. As one of my favorite writers (Lucy Maud Montgomery) said, “Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it.” Every new day is fresh and you can start over, with a clean slate! Live today.
Love you!! *hug and a smooch*