Friday, January 18, 2008

Three Stages in Becoming a Friend of God

In the beginning, God walked with man, his most wonderful creation, in the Garden of Eden। He was the man's provider, protector, and above all, his best friend.

But man's disobedience and banishment from Eden brought this to an end। Man, now, could no longer be a friend of God.

Later, only a few men could truly be called friends of God। One was Enoch, who spent his life in fellowship with God. (Gen 5: 24)

Another was Noah, who had no faults and was the only good man of his time। (Gen 6: 9-10)

Yet another was Abraham, whom God chose to father a great nation।

And there was Moses, whom God chose as his instrument to free the Israelites from the Egyptian yoke। "The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with a friend." (Ex 33: 11)

Today, is it possible for man to be a friend of God? Yes, indeed, it is possible for everyone to be a friend of God। All it needs is that we are perfect in God's eyes: "You must be perfect - just as your Father in heaven is perfect!" (Mt 5: 48)

There are three clearly defined stages in the process of becoming a friend of God:

Initially, we are at the Imperfect Stage, when we are selfish, self-centered and miserly.
We do not give tithes, show charity, or offer solace to the needy people who are less fortunate than we।

We are hard-hearted, unforgiving, and revengeful।

And we, also, never intercede or pray for others. In fact, we hardly pray enough for ourselves!
The Lord takes us at this stage and gradually makes us into new people - people with a 'new heart' - a loving, caring, forgiving, merciful, and prayerful people।

In time, we graduate to the Half-Perfect Stage, which is the most difficult stage to navigate, in order to reach the Perfect Stage।

At this stage, we give tithes, show charity, and offer solace to the needy - but we keep an account of our good deeds।

We outwardly forgive others, but inwardly we still harbor anger and even thirst for revenge।

We still do not intercede or pray for others, but put forward before God our own 'shopping list'।

It is only when we conquer, through the grace of God, the various selfish obstacles thrown up at the half-perfect stage that we reach the perfect stage and can be called a friend of God।

We will know that we have attained the Perfect Stage when we give totally to God, and to the less fortunate people, without keeping any record।

We will know that we have attained the Perfect Stage when we forgive our enemies and show mercy to those that hurt us or cause us suffering।

We will know that we can be called a friend of God when we pray and intercede for others, especially those who hurt us, forgetting ourselves and our own needs।

At this stage, God will see our actions of complete giving and He will give unto us whatever our needs are, as well as whatever we request for others। For God will look into our heart and see our giving nature.

When you are a friend of God, you are ready to give anything, even your life, for God and for your neighbor: "The greatest love a person can have for his friend is to give his life for them।" (Jan 15: 13)

The Lord Jesus Christ gave his life for us so that we may live। By this supreme act he washed away our sins, offering himself as the sacrificial lamb. That was the greatest act of love!

So, for man to enter heaven, it is not his prayers and pious actions that God sees. All the good works, prayers and evangelization is no use if we do not acquire a giving nature. For God looks into a man's heart and sees his giving nature - a total giving nature in his relationship to God, and to his fellow men. Then only can one be called a friend of God.

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