James 2:23 New International Version (NIV)
23 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.
John 15:12 New International Version (NIV)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Hymns: "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "In the Garden"
Who Is Your Best Friend?
A Homily preached by Daniel Love Glazer
At Bella Terra Nursing Home
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Do you have a best friend? Someone with whom you have a deep affinity? Someone with whom you can share your deepest thoughts and feelings, knowing that he will respond with understanding and affection? Or, perhaps, did you used to have such a friend, who has gone on to the life beyond our life here and whom you will greet with joy when you too have ascended on high?
I once heard a lecture a professor of psychology give a lecture on friendship. He said that he used to ask his students how many close friends they had—how many people they knew with whom they could share their deepest yearnings. Many students had no such friend; some had one dear friend; occasionally a student reported two close friends.
I don’t know whether you have been blessed with such a dear friend, but I am here to tell you this: every one of us has a phenomenally close friend who can appreciate all of our longings, fears, and hopes. This Friend is God!
Yes, God, the Father of all things and beings, longs to be in personal relationship with each and every one of us. And because this is so, we can know God as a constant partner and friend in our daily life.
As human beings, we are accustomed to experiencing friendship with other people on physical, emotional, and intellectual levels. But there is another, higher dimension to reality, namely the spiritual level. It is on the spiritual level that we can experience friendship with God himself.
To be God’s friend we must communicate with him. Communicating with God suggests prayer, of course. By prayer I do not mean anything formal or considered as a religious duty. I mean simply directing your thoughts and desires to the spiritual personality we know as God. Prayer can encompass a broad range. It can be an expression of spiritual attitude, a proclamation of soul loyalty, an expression of thanksgiving, a desire for meaning in life, deep consideration of the supreme values of truth, beauty, and goodness, a confession of ultimate devotion, a determined soul searching for self-discovery, an intense call for spiritual help, an earnest release of selfish desires, a visualization of God’s nectar pouring down on those in need, and, above all, a heartfelt chat with your dearest friend, the Creator and Controller of the universe.
Prayer is a two-way conversation with God. You tell God your concerns, your joys, your sorrows, and your needs. And he responds lovingly with comfort and guidance. You don’t pray to change God, but the act of sincere prayer certainly changes you. Of course, only rarely, if ever, will you receive God’s answer to your prayer as a crystal-clear response. More likely you will see indirect answers—increased understanding, enhanced ability to deal with the challenges of life, and , perhaps, apparent chance occurrences.
In prayer we must strike a balance between expecting too much and expecting too little. Prayer is not a form of magic, in which we can get anything we desire. But if we believe too little we sacrifice spiritual comfort, strength, and support, never to experience the joy of recognizing God’s answer to prayer.
In the material world, we perceive via our senses of sound, sight, taste, touch, and smell. But God is a spirit person and we communicate with him from the deepest recesses of our soul.
And doubt not—God can and will answer you!
Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God is within us. Yes, there is a divine spirit within each of us, and this spirit is the source of our faith. The indwelling spirit inspires our faith, the faith that assures us that God is real and loves us with an infinite love. Every one of us is blessed with this gift of faith. In some of us this faith may be only a glimmer, but if we act on the faith we do have, however small, our faith will grow. Faith is a gift from God, and he yearns for us to cultivate it so that it increasingly dominates our thinking, our feeling, our prayers, and our interactions with each other.
The faith I am talking about is not the same as a mere belief. You may intellectually believe something, for example, the belief that God loves you, but to have faith implies that this truth securely holds you, that the truth has become so real to you that you accept it with every fiber of your being. When you experience faith in God, he becomes real to you and you become assured that your career in this life and eternity is wholly secure in the hands of the absolute spirit person who is the creator, controller and infinite upholder of the universe and who wants to be your friend.
But have not people had faith in things which are not real and can never be real? You may have faith that 2 plus 2 equals 5, but that does not make it so. Or you may have faith that you will win the lottery. Such faith, while not so impossible as adding two and two to get five, is not a desire that God will respond to. What can you reasonably have faith in? Here is a short list:
- God listens to your prayers.
- God knows everything about you: your history, your thoughts, your emotions, your desires.
- God seeks your highest good.
- God has an eternal plan that encompasses a glorious future for you, if only you will accept his guidance.
- God forgives any errors or misdeeds you may have committed and is eager to embrace you as a loving father embraces a child who may have gone astray.
As we develop our friendship with God, we must remember, of course, to be sincere. This sincerity goes beyond the honesty we owe to our human friends. Though we are honest with them, we are also discreet and sensitive to them; we will not blurt out a truth that we know will hurt them. But with God, we need not be reserved. He knows our every thought; there is no reason not to be totally sincere with him; we can’t fool God! The better we know him, the more we realize we can trust him. Trust in God means letting go of our wishes and any desire to change him, and allowing God to change us.
To be good friend to God, we must trust him. We trust our human friends, but God is worthy of absolute trust. He will never betray us. He wants only the best for us. We can bring to him every concern, every difficulty, every desire, and he will always guide us toward our highest good.
Here’s an important point about praying to God: Our prayers must be unselfish. God will not welcome a prayer that asks for unfair advantage over someone else. In prayer, we ask to know God’s will, and God’s will must be the highest good for us. Also, we should pray for others, as Jesus often did. We can pray for our family, our friends, for strangers, and, yes, even for our enemies. All are children of God, created in his image and beloved by him.
Remember: God responds to your real needs. And he answers your prayers when you are ready. And you can increase your receptivity to God’s spiritual blessings. How? First, by asking for God’s help. Second, by confidently expecting him to answer. But realize that his answer comes from his infinite wisdom; he may not give you just what you ask for, but he will answer in terms of his superior knowledge. So we can abandon all petty desires and instead cultivate the supreme desire of knowing and doing God’s will. We can be confident that God will answer our prayers, but he will answer according to our highest needs; we must be patient and let God provide answers according to his timetable, not ours.
Let us rejoice that our God loves us so much that he is ever willing to respond lovingly to our faintest faith. Yes, God is our best friend!