Do you have any close friends? Close enough to share your heart and secrets? Loyal enough to keep what you say between the two of you? Faithful to love you no matter what? Gracious when you confess and yet lovingly honest when needed? Such friends are rare, aren’t they?
I call such people Soul Friends, and they are essential to healthy Christian lives for both leaders and followers. God should be our most intimate Soul Friend, but we also need others.
This is the first in a series of posts looking at Soul Friendships.
God himself reveals the qualities of a Soul Friendship. God’s named friends were few. Abraham was actually called God’s friend. Moses is implied to be God’s friend; and Jesus calls his disciples, and by implication us, his friends.
The ingredient that separates soul friendship from others is intimacy. Everything else about this kind of relationship provides that intimacy.
“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend,” (Ex. 33:11a, ESV).
Although this verse doesn’t expressly say that Moses was God’s friend, the suggestion is there. The thing that set Moses apart as God’s friend was face to face communication, but they didn’t exactly talk face to face. At the burning bush God spoke out of the bush itself (Ex. 3:1-15). There he revealed himself to Moses. Later at Mount Sinai Moses talked to God alone, but God spoke to Moses out of the mountain (Ex. 19:2).Again, when Moses went to the mountain to receive the stone tablets, God spoke from the midst of a cloud (Ex. 24:1-18).
Yes, God spoke to other contemporaries of Moses. When God met the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, he spoke the Ten Commandments out of smoke, but they were afraid and wanted Moses to talk to God alone (Ex. 20:18-21). When the seventy elders and the priests went up on the mountain, they saw a manifestation of God but only Moses went near (Ex. 24:9). What was different?
Although others went near God and heard his voice and even experienced a manifestation of his presence, there was something about his relationship with Moses that was different. Moses didn’t just hear God, he and God conversed together intimately; they enjoyed a two-way conversation. God revealed who he was to Moses in unique ways (Ex. 34:6-7). Moses entered God’s presence without fear because he knew God in a way that no one else did.
I spent years struggling with my time with God, and even now I still have days when I meet God on my feet rather than in stillness alone. It has been a long and slow journey for me to more toward intimacy with God. I can say without question that I have been wherever you are with God. As a fellow learner, the Scriptural model helps me continue to grow.
As we begin a series of posts on Soul Friendship, let’s assess where we are right now in our friendships with God.
- Do you spend regular time with God? Is it hurried or comfortable as time with a friend should be?
- Is your time with God done only as an item on your daily checklist or as time with a friend?
- How much do you reveal yourself with God? How honest are you?
- Are your conversations with God two-way? Are you listening?
What have you done to grow in this area?