I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. -- Psalms 34:4
Thursday, January 22, 2015
What Are Friends For?
I often seek God for something. I think it’s good to ask, seek, and knock, to look for God’s help when one is troubled. But a lot of the time, when I’m praying, what I am seeking is not God. Instead I want the relief or the deliverance. I recognize that healing, wholeness, salvation, help, and liberty come through the Lord, and that’s good. There comes a point when we can take another step: He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). All that we need isn’t just in Christ, it is Christ.
I don’t always go to my friends to get help moving heavy objects. Sometimes I go to help them. Sometimes I am happy to simply sit down with them, drink coffee and tell stories or hear stories. We sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Jesus, we say, is the Friend of sinners. What kind of friend am I to the Lord? Am I one who only shows up when I have a dead battery or an empty bank account? I’ve had friends like that. If you need help, you need help, though I’d rather not be that kind myself.
If we’re not careful, sometimes we start thinking that the friendship and help can go only one way. God doesn’t really need us. He loves us in a paternalistic way, but there’s really nothing we can do for Him. Lewis used the example of a child who asks for money from his father to buy the father a gift. Every parent is touched by and appreciates that, but none of us think we’re ahead on the deal.
Yet, at the same time, I think of the Lord crying out: And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none (Ezekiel 22:30). Eventually, a man, in fact, the Man was found, and He did stand in the gap for all. It does not end there. In Colossians 1:24, Paul speaks of his ministry this way: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
We, too, are called to stand firm and be part of the shield wall the Apostle describes in Ephesians 6. God gives us the power, the courage, the strength, and the determination to stand where He needs us. We have all the weapons, all the tools, and all the protection we need in Him, but we are the ones who have to stand. If we seek the Lord Himself, we will find our rest and our warfare, our liberty and our purpose, our deliverance and our destiny. And if we seek Him, we will find Him.