FRIENDS OF A FRIENDLY GOD
Up in northwest England, close to the border of Scotland, there lives a strong but gentle shepherd. We heard that recently he had become a Christian.
So we went to find out what had led him to make this decision.
With the help of a well-trained dog, he led his flock down the hill in our direction. Then we watched the birth of triplets and marvelled at how
skillfully he handled both the mother and the three new lambs. As he stood there, holding one of the housand baby lambs he helped deliver every year,
I had a chance to ask him how he had made up his mind to become a believer.
“It was me friend Alice,” he said, nodding toward a woman with a wonderfully friendly face.
“Tell us what she did,” I requested.
“Oh, she just took me through the Bible, and it seemed to come out right.”
We learned more about Alice. She had gone through all sixty-six books and loved the picture of God she had found. She was very active in her little
country church, and even preached from time to time when the pastor was away. Not long ago she sent me a recording of her sermon on the Good Shepherd.
My wife pronounced it the best sermon she had ever heard on the subject.
One of the marks of true friendship with God is jealousy for our heavenly Friend’s reputation. Abraham, Moses and Job all demonstrated such loyalty.
So did Alice. She wanted God to be seen as he really is, and it won the heart of the shepherd.
I notice that friends of God are especially concerned that their children see God as a Friend. After visiting so many empty churches in Britain,
we attended one in London that was said to be overflowing with worshippers every week. Four vivacious young girls let me talk with them after the
“When you get to heaven, who would you rather meet first—God the Father, or Jesus the Son?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, one of the girls replied, “It wouldn’t make any difference. Jesus said, ‘If you’ve seen me,
you’ve seen the Father.’ ” I wondered if some friend of God had helped that bright young girl.
When I ask what should be done to bring disillusioned people back to church, some say that such doubters should be told to stop asking so many
questions and show a little more faith. Some even add that warning from Hebrews that “No one can please God without faith.”
1 To me, this is the way servants talk. And this approach is just what has turned so many people in the world against God.
Friends of God would want to understand why people like Lorraine and her family feel that Christian teachings have no meaning any more. There has
indeed been a great deal of “dark speech” in talking about God and salvation.
If Jesus were here in person, he would go and talk plainly and clearly to Lorraine and her gentle family, to Barry the butcher, to the gravedigger
and the motorbikers. As God’s children, they deserve an opportunity to understand.
It is the high privilege of God’s friends to serve as his “mediators” to such people, as Moses did to the Children of Israel.
When I asked a young Christian schoolboy what he thought should be done for people like Lorraine, he replied quickly, “Just tell them stories
To tell about Jesus is to tell about the upper room and what the Lord said and did to his disciples there. It means to explain that God values
nothing higher than the freedom and friendship of his children everywhere.
To tell about Jesus means inviting people to ask more questions, not less. Not just quibbling questions, of course, but questions aimed at
understanding the truth.
Those who venture to speak for God should be the first to encourage such inquiry. To follow Christ’s example means to set people free to
say respectfully to the most erudite preacher, “I don’t understand what you just said about God. Forgive me for having to say this, but to
me it was all just ‘dark speech.’ ”
To follow Christ’s example also means to be very respectful of servants. If in their fear of God they need the assurance that they have a
Friend between, friends of God will tell them that indeed they have such a friendly Intercessor. Perhaps later there will come a chance to explain
that the Friend between is God.
To servants, the greatest compliment they could hear from God is, “Well done, you good and faithful servant.”
How could anyone ask for anything more?
To those who have accepted the offer of John 15:15, there is an even greater compliment in store: “Thank you, my children, for telling the
truth. Thank you for being my friends.”